Certified Breastfeeding Advocate Training Course: 2017 - 2018


Christelle Hagen

Cert. Prof. Breastfeeding Counselor

As the Co-Founder of Breastfeed {Naturally}, a breastfeeding support and training organization based in the USA, I am passionate about helping women breastfeed and training up breastfeeding specialists who will serve mothers around the globe. I am a Certified Professional Breastfeeding Counselor, and Certified Breastfeeding Advocate & Educator. In addition to my qualifications in breastfeeding, I am a certified birth & perinatal loss doula from Minnesota, USA (Hypnobabies). My career as a women's health educator began in 1999 when I became a certified instructor of natural family planning classes. I became a dual certified childbirth educator, first with ICEA in 2001 and Apple Tree Family Ministries in 2007, and was re-certified in 2013. It is my mission to help women understand, appreciate and cooperate with their natural designs for fertility, birth, and breastfeeding so that they can succeed while they breastfeed.


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Are you a breastfeeding mother who loves to share the benefits of breastfeeding?  Have you ever wished you could help your family members, friends, neighbors, or co-workers to breastfeed effectively?  This course gives you the knowledge and skills to provide basic breastfeeding counseling and to advocate for breastfeeding within your community.  Students who successfully complete this course and all additional requirements will earn the title Breastfeed {Naturally}-Certified Breastfeeding Advocate.

Based on the Ten Baby Steps to Effective, Joyful Breastfeeding

The keys to a close and effective breastfeeding relationship--one that will help mothers reach their goals--can be found in the Ten Baby Steps to Effective, Joyful Breastfeeding.  This course builds on Breastfeed {Naturally}'s "Succeed When You Breastfeed" class for mothers and gives volunteer counselors the ability to help mothers reach their breastfeeding goals by sharing the Ten Baby Steps to Effective, Joyful Breastfeeding with mothers and helping them to implement the Baby Steps, in their own unique ways, within their families.  In addition, you will learn basic breastfeeding counseling skills and learn how to advocate for breastfeeding within your community.

For more information about the Ten Baby Steps to Effective, Joyful Breastfeeding, you are welcome to visit the Breastfeed {Naturally} website.  

Course open to anyone

The course is open for anyone to take.  However, in order to earn the title of Breastfeed {Naturally}-Certified Breastfeeding Advocate, you must complete the requirements listed below in the section titled, "Certification Requirements."

Certification Requirements

If you would like to earn the title of Breastfeed {Naturally}-Certified Breastfeeding Advocate, there are several requirements to complete.  The requirements for certification are:

  1. You must be a member of Breastfeed {Naturally} (US$25)  Pay for your membership on our website.
  2. Submit a signed copy of agreement with the Breastfeed {Naturally} Principles.
  3. Successfully complete this course, including active participation in the forum, two required special projects, a log of the hours spent on the course, and passing scores on the quizzes and final exam.  Since the course is only available in the English language, you must be able to communicate in English fluently.  You must also have access to a reliable computer with high-speed internet access, since the course is online.
  4. Pay for this course in full prior to the registration deadline.
  5. You must agree to provide volunteer peer counseling in alignment with BfN's Statement of Ethics (located on our website).  If you also successfully complete BfN's Certified Breastfeeding Educator course, you may earn income teaching breastfeeding classes!
  6. Read and review one book for breastfeeding mothers published within the last 5 years.  (You are not required to purchase the book you review; however, it is recommended that you go ahead and purchase at least one book written for mothers as it will be helpful to loan out!)
  7. Be willing to improve your skills after the course through BfN's continuing education opportunities.  As a volunteer, you are welcome to participate in our continuing education opportunities for free!


In order to effectively understand the Ten Baby Steps to Effective, Joyful Breastfeeding so that you can share them with mothers, we require every Certified Breastfeeding Advocate to complete the free class for mothers, Succeed When You Breastfeed, also found on Eliademy. 

If you have not already taken the Succeed When You Breastfeed class, go ahead and take it now!  Print a copy of the certificate at the end, as proof that you have completed the class.  It is not necessary to complete every suggested activity, simply read each page completely and write a short comment about your personal experiences with the particular Baby Step, including why you think the Baby Step does (or does not) help mothers to breastfeed.


Course Objectives

By completing the Certified Breastfeed Advocates Training course, the learner will understand:

  • How to advocate for breastfeeding and breastfeeding families in your community
  • How to apply the Ten Baby Steps to Effective, Joyful Breastfeeding within particular situations to help mothers reach their breastfeeding goals
  • How to work with professionals in your community to support breastfeeding mothers
  • How breastfeeding works, so you can help mothers understand their natural design
  • The influence of your local culture on breastfeeding mothers
  • How to help mothers grow in confidence in their ability to meet their child's nutritional needs
  • Basic breastfeeding counseling skills so you can knowledgeably assist breastfeeding mothers with common problems to help them get back on track toward their breastfeeding goals
  • Listening and communication skills so mothers will feel more confident and supported

Characteristics of an Excellent Certified Breastfeeding Advocate

  • An experienced breastfeeding mother who has nursed at least one baby for 12 months or more
  • A woman who is enthusiastic about breastfeeding and wants to help other mothers and babies in her community to experience easy, joyful breastfeeding
  • A woman who does not want to take the time at this point in her life to develop breastfeeding counseling as a profession, but still wants to provide knowledgeable, compassionate breastfeeding support as a volunteer and make a difference in her community
  • -OR- A woman who intends to pursue additional training opportunities for breastfeeding professionals through Breastfeed {Naturally}

Cost and How to Register for the Course

  1. The cost of the course is US$50.  I will lead you through the payment process when you are accepted into the course.
  2. Visit this webpage: http://www.breastfeednaturally.org/breastfeeding-advocate.html and apply for the course.
  3. I will be in touch with you to talk about your application information and discuss whether you plan to become a BfN-Certified Breastfeeding Advocate and to answer any questions you might have.
  4. You will need to purchase one required textbook: Counseling the Nursing Mother, by Judith Lauwers and Anna Swisher.  You should purchase the most recent edition (the 6th edition, currently).  Please note that we will only use the first section of the textbook in this course; however, it will be a good reference book for you to have on hand, and furthermore, this is the one textbook we use through all of our more advanced trainings, so your purchase may be used again in the future should you choose to take additional BfN trainings!
  5. We also use a free online breastfeeding counseling skills manual.  A link to the manual is included within the course.

Course Length

The course will last from Monday, November 27, 2017 to Friday, February 16, 2018.  The last two weeks of the course are reserved for working on the final exam, so you may finish as early as Monday, February 12, 2018, if you stay on schedule and finish your exam promptly.

The course schedule is as follows:

  • WEEK 0.  November 27-December 1: Course Orientation
  • WEEK 1. December 4-December 8: The Benefits of Breastfeeding and Breastfeeding Promotion
  • WEEK 2. December 11-December 15: Breastfeeding Specialists and Assessment of the Local Breastfeeding Situation
  • WEEK 3. December 18-December 22: How Breastfeeding Works and The Sociology of Breastfeeding Support
  • December 23-January 7: --Break and Catch-Up Weeks, if needed--
  • WEEK 4. January 8-January 12: Empowering Women to Breastfeed and The Effects of Health Care Practices on Breastfeeding
  • WEEK 5. January 15-January 19: Listening & Learning from Mothers; Breastfeeding Counseling Skills
  • WEEK 6. January 22-January 26: Client Consultations and Assessing & Observing a Breastfeed
  • January 27-February 4:-- Break and Catch-Up Week, if needed--
  • WEEKS 7 and 8. February 5-February 16: Final Exam weeks (you may complete your exam any time during these two weeks)


You should plan to spend 3-4 hours per week on your studies.  Experience has shown that a student who plans to spend a little time studying every day is more likely to successfully complete the course than those who plan to spend a larger chunk of time once per week studying, since if a student misses the longer study session on a given week, she is then two weeks behind by the time she gets to her next planned study session.  It is much easier to catch up when you're only a day behind, then when you are a full week behind schedule!


If at all possible, experience has shown that staying with the study group is the best way to reliably complete the course.  However, circumstances may arise that cause a delay.  Please continue to work on your own, adding your thoughts and ideas as you are able.  I will work with you to help you complete the course.  You may work at your own pace and still successfully complete the course, as long as you finish all requirements by a year from when you start the course.

Course Developer & Instructors

The Certified Breastfeeding Advocates Training Course was developed by me, Christelle Hagen, B.A., BfNA, BfNE, BfNC, HCHD, in collaboration with Amie Norris, IBCLC.  Amie and I are the Co-Founders of Breastfeed {Naturally}, a breastfeeding support training organization located in Minnesota, USA.  I am a Certified Breastfeeding Advocate & Educator, a Certified Professional Breastfeeding Counselor, and a certified birth & perinatal loss doula.  I am also an experienced breastfeeding mother, having breastfed my seven children!  I have a BA in History with a Medieval Studies concentration from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, USA.  During the course, I will be the Student Support Guide, helping students with administrative questions about navigating the course, assignments, deadlines, and the certification process.


The Lactation Instructor of the course is Gina Peterson, BS, IBCLC.  Gina has been married for 20 years to her husband, Dominic, and has five children--all ecologically breastfed. She is a home educator, retired La Leche League Leader of over twelve years, volunteer lactation consultant for nine years, Executive Director of the Catholic Nursing Mothers League, and author of "Getting Started with Breastfeeding: For Catholic Mothers." She has a BS in Mathematics and a BS in Basic Sciences from New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro, New Mexico, USA.  During the course, Gina will help students with breastfeeding, lactation, and breastfeeding counseling questions.



Gina and I are available for students in need of assistance, both for mothers with a need for breastfeeding counseling as well as students with questions or comments related to the class.  You can contact us by posting a message on the course forum, or send us an email.  My email address is on my Eliademy profile page.  Gina's email address will be sent to all enrolled students.

Contact Gina with any breastfeeding and lactation questions that arise as you are studying.  Contact me (Christelle) with any certification, deadline, or assignment questions.  Feel free to contact us anytime!

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