**Please note: I am not a doctor and any concerns with your baby’s health, milk intake or weight gain need to be addressed with a pediatrician. A Lactation Consultant should always be consulted but following a doctor’s directions for the health of your baby is most important while working on lactation issues.
Let’s be frank, breastfeeding isn’t always as “natural” as it is made out to be. For some, yes, it comes easy. For others, their entire experience is plagued with issues. Or perhaps you are somewhere in the middle with minimal issues but issues just the same.
Breastfeeding problems are more common than you would think.
So no matter where you fall on the “issues” spectrum, it is important not to feel discouraged.
Yes, breastfeeding should be a natural process and yes, most issues can be overcome but that doesn’t mean the journey is always easy. Sometimes it takes work.
A certified Lactation Consultant can be your best friend when it comes to issues that you cannot overcome. You may need to find a Lactation Consultant for advice if:
You tried increasing your milk supply with minimal results
Are having issues pumping and not seeing any output
Suffering from clogged milk ducts
Been experiencing sore nipples for extended period of time
Unsure if your baby is getting enough milk
Baby is experiencing weight gain issues
Baby is not latching on your breast or is having difficulty
Your baby cries at the breast
What is a Certified Lactation Consultant?
A Lactation Consultant is a professional breastfeeding specialist that is trained to help lactating mothers learn how to feed their babies, address milk supply issues, breast pain when feeding, low weight gain in breastfed babies, teaching mothers how to express milk using a breast pump, addressing latching issues, and much more.
A Lactation Consultant can work in a doctor’s office, hospital, clinic, or have a private practice. They will have taken and passed the license exam given by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBCLE). It is a lengthy process to become certified and requires not only education courses but also many, many hours of hands on supervised work with lactation mothers.
This is why getting the professional advice from a one is so valuable. They have the education and training to address even the most difficult breastfeeding issues.
It should be noted that a person can call themselves a “lactation consultant” without getting the internationally recognized certification (IBCLC) since the term is not trademarked. They may have taken some simple, short courses. It is best to look for a consultant that has the trademarked IBCLC as their credential. They have the education and training to best assist you.
Working with a Certified Lactation Consultant can make or break a mother’s breastfeeding success in some cases. Most issues can be addressed. Some take time and patience but working with a professional will greatly increase your odds of achieving your breastfeeding goals.
How to Find a Lactation Consultant
With the internet, finding a lactation consultant is just a few clicks away! Here are some websites and resources that you can use to search for a Lactation Consultant near you:
- ILCA – International Lactation Consultant Association: Easy way to search for a certified IBCLC around the world.
- USLCA – United States Lactation Consultant Association: Here you will find Private Lactation Consultants that can make home visits, consultations in a clinic or private setting, and referrals for breast pumps and supplies.
- La Leche League – Your local group leaders can often refer you to a certified lactation consultant.
- Your Hospital – Typically while you are in the hospital after giving birth, a Lactation Consultant will visit you or at the very least will be available if you request one. I highly recommend that you do try to see one before you leave the hospital. They typically will give you information to take home on how to contact them once you are home should you have any questions or issues. Keep this information and use it! If you lost it or never received it, simply call your hospital and ask if they have a Lactation Consultant that you can speak with.
- Breastfeeding Support Groups -Facebook groups or other online support groups are a great way to ask for a lactation consultant referral. Look for groups in your area.
- Breastfeeding USA – Like La Leche League, this organization offers support groups and resources for moms. Your local leader will be able to recommend an LC.
What to Expect at your Appointment with a Lactation Consultant
Your visit with a Lactation Consultant will be a one-on-one, hands-on consultation.
During this appointment, your Lactation Consultant may/will (note: An LC may not do all the following. It will depend on the issues you are facing/experiencing):
- Gather a history of the issue you are experiencing/ask questions
- Assess your baby – check their mouth for lip/tongue ties
- Assess your breast and nipples
- Weight your baby before and after breastfeeding to get the exact ounces your baby is taking in
- Observe you breastfeeding your baby
- Help you hands-on with latching your baby and showing you different holds while breastfeeding
- Help educate you on overcoming the issue you are facing and show you how
- Assist with fitting you with breastshields for pumping
- Show you how to use a breast pump or help you with a hospital grade rental
- Answer any of your questions
To get the most out of your visit, write down your questions beforehand so you don’t forget anything. Wear a nursing-friendly top and nursing bra as your consultant will need to observe how you are feeding and latching your baby.
Will Insurance Cover My Consultation with a Lactation Consultant?
The answer to this is that it depends…
The Affordable Care Act of 2010 covers a broad range of topics one of those was requiring that health care plans cover breastfeeding support and supplies. The coverage amounts and specific for each individual plan will vary, however.
The first step would be calling your health care provider and asking them the following questions:
- Are Lactation Services covered by your plan?
- How many consultations/visits will they cover?
- Do they have an in-network list of consultants you need to use?
- Will they reimburse for consultants outside your network?
Lactation Consultants will offer cash options so you can opt to pay out of pocket. That fee will vary depending on where you live and the services you need but you might expect to pay a hundred dollar or more for a consultation.
Never let a problem continue to grow because you are afraid to ask. Remember, you are NOT alone and there are recourses available to help you work through any issues you are facing!
Have questions about the process of finding a Lactation Consultant or what to expect at your appointment? Drop me a comment below!
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