BE02: Anatomy & Physiology of the Lactating Breast

To understand the abnormal you must first have a comprehensive understanding of normal. In this course, you will study breast anatomy and physiology from embryology to full lactation and quiescence, then examine the abnormalities of both structure and function that will impact on a mother's/lactating parent's ability to breast/chest feed their child.

Access Time:
1 month (starting from time of purchase)
Enrolling in more than 1 course? Time is cumulative ie buy 2 courses, have 2 months access to both courses
12 L CERPs / 12 Pre-exam Education Hours / 12 CH
Detailed Content Outline domains:  I (b), III (b)
This course is facilitated by an experienced International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).

Well-constructed online learning gives you the best of both worlds - quality content that you can work through at your own pace, in your own place, but with a level of personal attention that even rivals face-to-face programs. And, you guessed it, Health e-Learning-IIHL programs are the BEST of online learning with all these great features:

  • Log in when it suits you 24/7/365
  • Study at your own pace within your enrolment period
    • no formal deadlines, stressful exams or assignments
  • All reading provided or linked
  • Periodic testing of knowledge with fun self-test activities
  • Course facilitation by highly experienced IBCLC tutor
  • Gain valuable support and network with students from all over the world
  • Immediate feedback for final online assessment
    • certificate of completion issued immediately
  • Administrative and technical support available online


  • An understanding of basic human anatomy and physiology.  A basic human anatomy and physiology text would be beneficial to your learning.
  • An open and enquiring mind!


  1. Breast Anatomy
    • Mammogenesis
    • Functional anatomy
    • Supportive anatomy
    • Breast anomalies
  2. Lactation Physiology
    • Secretory differentiation (Lactogenesis I)
    • Secretory activation (Lactogenesis II)
    • Lactogenesis III
    • Involution
    • Lactation insufficiency


An active forum, where topical issues may be raised, case studies discussed, questions posed and answered, links to additional information provided, etc, is facilitated by an experienced IBCLC and is an integral part of the course. Reading and participating in this forum will enhance your learning experience and that of your colleagues.

Reading Material

  • All required reading materials and resources are available online.
    • A quality, current lactation text is advisable to augment your studies. Please see our list of recommended resources for further information.
  • Participants are permitted to print one (1) copy of their course for personal use only.
    • If you do wish to print, please be aware that some courses are over 60 pages in length. Please be advised that links to articles and interactive activities are not available in the printed version.

Quality Assurance

  • Principal author: Denise Fisher, MMP, BN, IBCLC; Co-author: Suzanne Cox, BMid, IBCLC, AM
  • Original course reviewed by: Cathy Fetherston PhD IBCLC; Trudi Szallasi IBCLC
  • All courses are reviewed annually, as well as being updated as new information becomes known.
  • Course review and updates by Melanie Gringras, BScN, IBCLC, and Carole Dobrich, B.Sc., RN, IBCLC 


The aim is for you to acquire a high level of understanding of breast anatomy and lactation physiology so that you can base your lactation management advice on sound principles.


On successful completion of this course, the student will be able to

  • list the stages and hormones involved in the development of the breast from the embryological stage, through puberty to the childbearing years and beyond.
  • label the components of a lactocyte and describe their function, including the 5 pathways described for milk synthesis.
  • describe the ductal and glandular systems in terms of distribution, arrangement, and number of milk ducts.
  • discuss the significance of the areola and nipple to feeding.
  • articulate the series of events that occur when the milk ejection reflex is elicited.
  • list the arterial supply to and lymphatic drainage from the breast.
  • tutor colleagues and/or parents on how breast capacity impacts feeding frequency.
  • recognize anomalies of breast anatomy that may impact feeding.
  • describe secretory differentiation in terms of onset and hormonal control.
  • describe secretory activation in terms of onset and completion, hormonal control and the changes in human milk components.
  • list two processes that control the maintenance of lactation.
  • describe the anatomical and/or physiological basis of lactation failure.


Achievement of the learning objectives is assessed by automatically graded, online, multiple-choice questions. A passing grade is 85%.

A Workbook, downloaded from the course, is not required to be submitted, but completion will aid learning and provide an excellent resource.

On successfully completing this course you will be able to download, save and print your Certificate of Completion. Your Certificate will note ongoing education accreditation points.


On successful completion of this course you will be awarded:

  • 12 L CERPs*
  • 12 Professional Development Education hours*
  • 12 CHs*
*Please see our Accreditation table for the most up-to-date accreditation numbers

For IBLCE examination preparation, this course provides 12 pre-exam education hours.

Do we offer CEUs? Need other types of accreditation? Please see our Accreditation FAQ for more information.


  1. This course is facilitated by an experienced International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.
  2. The course is available as a one-month subscription commencing on the day of notification to you of your username and password.
  3. The subscription time is cumulative - for example, if you purchase 8 courses - you receive 8 months' access to all 8 courses.
  4. The subscription time may be extended by purchasing extensions, but must be purchased before the subscription expiry date.
  5. The average time taken to complete this course and the assessment is 12 hours.
  6. On successful completion, your Certificate will be available to you in pdf format from the course website.
  7. Replacement certificates can be obtained for a fee, however we maintain an official transcript that is available free for all customers to download at any time.

Fees and Payments

  • Enrollments are accepted online, or upon receipt of a faxed or mailed enrollment form (available on request).
  • Payments online are available via credit cards through either PSiGate or PayPal gateways.
  • The cost is US$135.00 per course.
  • Additional fees, that are out of our control, may be charged by your bank to convert this to your local currency.
  • Please see our Payments FAQ for more information.

Refunds and Privacy

Please see our Terms and Conditions for more information regarding refunds and our Privacy Policy is also available.