Why You Should See a Lactation Consultant
What is a lactation consultant?
A lactation consultant (LC) is a person who helps you with breastfeeding. They have received specialized training and education in all aspects of breastfeeding.
There are different training programs and certifications. The IBCLC is considered to be the gold standard for certification.
Lactation consultants may also have a medical degree. Many are also RN’s, MD’s, Nurse Practitioners and Speech or Occupational Therapists. They may have been peer counselors with La Leche League or another organization.
Most lactation consultants are women.
When choosing a lactation consultant, you should ask:
- What is their background
Why you should get a lactation consult?
These are the different problems an LC can help you with:
- Latch difficulty
- Pain with latch
- Proper positioning
- Sore nipples
- Nipple cracks and bleeding
- Milk blisters
- Flat or inverted nipples
- Clogged ducts
- Working and breastfeeding
- Low milk supply
- Breastfeeding after breast surgery
- Forceful let-down
- Making sure that everything is going well and for general reassurance
- Sleepy baby
- Breast refusal
- Excessive weight loss or poor weight gain
- Suck problems
- How to tell if your baby is getting enough to eat when breastfeeding
- Dietary fussiness
- Fussiness with breastfeeding
- Poor feeding
- Nursing strike
Where does a lactation consult take place?
- In the hospital
- At a clinic
- At home
- Online in a secure video chat
Your lactation consultant and your health care team
Generally, your LC will be in contact with your HCP. Find out if they send them a written copy of the consult notes or communicate by phone or email.
How to find a lactation consultant
Lactation consultants may work for a hospital or be in private practice.
To find one:
- Check if nearby hospitals have LC’s
- Ask other moms who they have used
- Check “Find an IBCLC” on the United States Lactation Consultant Association (USLCA) site.
Some LC’s provide virtual consults.
How Much Will It Cost?
Fees can vary. Length of consults can also vary.
Will my insurance cover a visit to a lactation consultant?
Currently in the USA lactation consults are covered under the Affordable Health Care Act.
They are supposed to be covered with no cost-sharing, which means no deductibles or co-pays.
Not all insurance companies are compliant. It is always best to contact your insurance company ahead of time.
Find out if your LC will file insurance for you or if you would have to do that yourself.
What happens during a lactation consult
The order in which things happen may depend on how hungry your baby is when the consult begins!
Of course, you will be discussing the problem that you are seeing the LC for.
Other things that are important that you share:
- Your basic medical history
- Brief description of your labor and the birth
- Any prescription or OTC medications you are taking, including any herbal preparations
Your LC will want to know what is happening with feeding and any pumping you might be doing.
She will often weigh the baby and do before and after feeding test weights.
She might want to examine your baby’s mouth and see what his suck is like. She will want to observe a feeding.
In person consults are usually the best option, but they are not an option for everyone. Some moms may not want to go out for a consult and are unable to find someone to come to their home.
Virtual lactation consults are an added possibility that have been very popular.
What to expect after you’ve seen a lactation consultant
Ask what kind of follow-up is included in the cost of the consult.
- Support group
Occasionally, a problem is resolved during the consult and no follow-up is needed.
Sometimes one or more additional consults are necessary. There is usually a charge for any additional consults.
Your lactation consultant may recommend you consult with another type of practitioner.
How to become a lactation consultant
Many moms have told me that their LC made such a difference in their life that they want to provide the same help to other moms.
To learn more about becoming an LC check IBLCE.org. It can also help to talk to an experienced LC.
Andrea Tran RN, MA, IBCLC is the owner of Breastfeeding Confidential, a site devoted to all things breastfeeding. She had been helping breastfeeding moms and babies for over 24 years.