BE08: Lactation, Human Milk and Pharmacology

US$ 135.00

This course begins with an introductory module on pharmacology as it relates to the breastfeeding mother and infant. You will study easily understandable explanations of the complex mechanisms that affect transfer of drugs and substances into breastmilk, infant exposure and infant uptake of the medication. You will learn about medications contraindicated and those commonly prescribed for breastfeeding mothers. Social and illicit drugs and environmental contaminants and their effect on lactation and the infant are examined.

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 (IBLCE) /12 CHs
This course is tutored by an experienced Lactation Consultant.

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 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 human physiology is desirable. A basic text book on this subject would support your studies in this course.
A strong appreciation of the value of breastmilk to the infant will ensure breastfeeding is not jeopardised unnecessarily. This knowledge could be gained from completing BreastEd BE01: Breastmilk Composition and Function.


  1. Introduction to Pharmacology
    • Pharmacokinetics
    • Pharmacodynamics
    • Pharmacotherapeutics
    • Research basis of pharmacology
  2. Drug transfer into breastmilk:
    • Influence of maternal factors
    • Influence of drug factors
    • Influence of infant factors
    • Active drug transport
    • Measures of drug transfer
  3. Prescribing for Breastfeeding Mothers
    • General principles
    • Clinical strategies to reduce drug transfer
    • Drugs contraindicated during lactation
    • Risk:Benefit assessment principles
  4. Commonly Prescribed Drugs
    • Antibiotics and antifungals
    • Analgesics
    • Antidepressants
    • Contraceptives
    • Galactagogues
    • Lactation suppressants
  5. Non-prescribed Drugs
    • Social drugs
    • Illicit drugs
    • Environmental pollutants
  6. Working with Prescribers
    • Woman-centered care
    • Professionalism


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 Lactation Consultant and is an integral part of the course. Reading this forum and contributing to it will enhance your learning 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 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

  • Author: Dr Kirsten Small, MBBS, Obstetrician;  Denise Fisher, AM, MMP, Lactation Consultant
  • Reviewed by subject matter expert: Prof K. Ilett (ver1)
  • All courses are reviewed annually, as well as being updated as new knowledge becomes known.


This course has been designed to provide you with sufficient information to understand how breastmilk is affected by medications, social drugs and environmental contaminants, and how that in turn might affect the breastfeeding infant.


On successful completion of this course you will be able to

  • Topic 1
    • define what a drug is
    • describe the basic concepts of pharmacokinetics
    • describe some of the basic mechanisms by which drugs have their biological effects
    • define bioavailability, half life and therapeutic range
    • explain the limitations of pharmacology research when applied to the mother-baby dyad
    • describe the effects that the mother's or infant's altered physiology can have on drug behavior
  • Topic 2
    • define and describe the factors that affect the rate and amount of drug transfer into breastmilk
    • define and describe the factors that affect the uptake of drugs from breastmilk into the infant
    • define and describe mathematical descriptions of drug transfer in breastmilk
  • Topic 3
    • demonstrate an awareness of the number and types of medications that lactating women are exposed to
    • identify appropriate resources to obtain reliable up-to-date information on safe drug use in breastfeeding
    • list strategies that can be used during medication use to minimize the potential for harm to the infant
    • identify drug classes that are contraindicated or require special monitoring in breastfeeding women
    • describe how you would perform a risk:benefit analysis with respect to medication use during breastfeeding
  • Topic 4
    • list suitable analgesics for use in lactating women
    • list antibiotics suitable for use in lactating women
    • list antidepressants suitable for use in lactating women
    • list hormonal contraceptives suitable for use in lactating women
    • explain the mechanism of action of common galactagogues
    • list the common galactagogues, both allopathic and herbal
    • explain the mechanism of action of drugs used to suppress lactation
    • list drugs and herbs commonly used for lactation suppression
  • Topic 5
    • discuss the effects of tobacco, alcohol and caffeine use on the breastfeeding dyad
    • discuss the impact of illicit drug use on the breastfeeding dyad, using specific examples
    • describe potential environmental contaminants that may be found in breastmilk
    • discuss practical steps to reduce infant exposure to environmental contaminants through breastmilk
  • Topic 6
    • Discuss their professional responsibility to women and prescribers
    • list possible approaches that may be useful in developing their professional relationships as a lactation consultant


Achievement of the learning objectives is assessed by automatically graded, online, multiple-choice questions. A passing grade is 80% on each assessment quiz.

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 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 using either PayPal or WorldPay 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.