Certified breastfeeding consultants educate and support breastfeeding families through pregnancy, initiation, and normal lactation. These breastfeeding advocates are qualified to treat common nursing problems and more serious conditions such as mastitis and clogged milk ducts. Lactation consultants often support lactating mothers in increasing their milk supply, finding the best nursing position, and managing breast pain. A solid lead is a recommendation from your care provider from the network of consultants they work with. National directories and online breastfeeding support groups allow you to search by location and provide you with contact information for lactation consultants within your region.
Mothers require active support for establishing and sustaining appropriate lactation practices. Whether breastfeeding comes easy for you or not, having a dependable support system is key to meeting your feeding goals.
No one can better offer you expert, personalized care than your lactation consultant.
The consultants are invaluable: your breastfeeding fairy godmother, personal cheerleader, and new-parent support team.
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What’s a lactation consultant?
A lactation consultant is a specialist who provides guidance and support to breastfeeding mothers and their infants. They’re trained professionals with strong hands-on training and deep education in evidence-based lactation management.
They’re equipped to solve minor, major, and complex breastfeeding issues.
A lactation consultant may assist with assessing breastfeeding techniques, providing education and resources, and offering personalized advice to ensure successful breastfeeding outcomes for both mother and baby.
The consultants are experts in preventing and managing all things nursing, pumping, and feeding. They’re routinely referred to you by OBGYNs, doulas, pediatricians, midwives, and other perinatal care providers.
Who becomes a certified lactation consultant?
To become a lactation consultant, individuals must complete specific training and meet certain qualifications. The most recognized certification for lactation consultants is the IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant)
All healthcare providers who want to support breastfeeding families, including physicians, nurses, educators, and lactation support workers, can pursue certification as certified lactation consultants.
Doulas and other birth assistants who want to expand the care they offer, peer counselors who wish to achieve certification, and anyone committed to supporting lactating families also qualify to pursue lactation consultants certification.
How can I find a lactation consultant near me?
Time is of the essence when you need lactation help. Here are different approaches to help you find the right lactation consultant for you and your little one.
1. Ask your healthcare provider
Start by asking your obstetrician, midwife, pediatrician, or other healthcare professionals if they can recommend a lactation consultant.
They often have a network of lactation consultants they work with or can provide you with a referral.
2. Contact local hospitals or birthing centers
Many hospitals or birthing centers have lactation consultants on staff or can refer you to certified consultants in the area.
Reach out to their lactation services department for assistance and recommendations.
3. Search on online directories
The International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA) directory is one of the many online directories dedicated to helping breastfeeding families find lactation consultants near your area.
The United States Lactation Consultant Association (USLCA) directory is another great online source linking parents to lactation consultants and resources within your vicinity.
These directories are great for searching by location and providing contact information for certified lactation consultants near you.
4. Reach out to breastfeeding support groups
Connect with local breastfeeding support groups or organizations like the Chocolate Milk Cafe, which provides low-cost or free peer-run virtual or in-person groups to receive lactation support from a peer lactation leader.
They often have resources or can recommend accredited lactation consultants who can provide guidance and support.
5. Ask friends and family
Seek recommendations for referrals of great lactation consultants from friends or family members who have breastfed before. They may have worked with lactation consultants and can provide valuable insights or references.
Check the credentials of any lactation consultant you consider working with. Look for their IBCLC certification to ensure you receive care from a qualified, experienced professional.
How do you know if you need a lactation consultant?
New parents are not meant to take the breastfeeding journey alone. It’s okay to reach out for help. Determining whether you need a lactation consultant depends on your situation and breastfeeding experience.
A lactation consultant may be helpful to you and your baby if you’re experiencing any of the following…
a) Difficulty with latching
If you are having trouble getting your baby to latch properly, experiencing pain during breastfeeding, or your baby is not effectively extracting milk, a lactation consultant can assess the latch and guide you on improving it.
b) Insufficient milk supply
Suppose you do not produce enough milk to meet your baby’s needs.
In that case, a lactation consultant can evaluate your breastfeeding routine, assess your baby’s weight gain, and offer strategies to increase milk production.
c) Breastfeeding challenges
If you encounter challenges such as engorgement, mastitis, blocked ducts, or if you’re experiencing nipple soreness or damage, a lactation consultant can offer solutions to address these issues and prevent complications.
d) Pre-existing conditions or special circumstances
If you have a pre-existing condition, such as inverted nipples, previous breast surgery, or a medical condition that may impact breastfeeding, a lactation consultant can help you navigate these challenges and create an effective breastfeeding plan.
e) Returning to work and breastfeeding
Suppose you’re planning to return to work and want to continue breastfeeding.
f) Support with breastfeeding goals
If you have specific breastfeeding goals or wish to learn more about breastfeeding techniques, positions, or strategies, a lactation consultant can provide valuable education, support, and encouragement.
Does health insurance cover a lactation consultant?
The availability of coverage for lactation consultants under health insurance varies based on your specific insurance plan. Some health insurance plans cover lactation consulting services, while others may not.
Contact your health insurance provider directly to inquire about the coverage details for lactation consultant services before your baby arrives. They will be able to provide you with accurate information regarding your specific plan.
Can I meet with an IBCLC before my due date?
Yes. Expecting parents are encouraged to request a lactation consultation before your due date. Many lactation consultants offer pre-birth consultations or prenatal classes to provide expectant mothers with valuable information and support regarding breastfeeding.
These sessions can help expectant mothers prepare for breastfeeding, learn about proper latch and positioning techniques, address any concerns or questions, and establish a plan for breastfeeding success once the baby arrives.
Lactation consultants are professionals who can address your concerns, provide personalized guidance, and help you overcome any breastfeeding challenges you may be facing.
For more on breastfeeding challenges and solutions, the articles below may provide better navigation and understanding.
- Baby Pulls Back In A Shallow Latch? (Learn What To Do For A Successful Breastfeeding)
- Is It Bad To Squeeze Your Breasts During Pregnancy? (Is It Safe To Collect Colostrum Before Birth?)
- Why Does My Baby Moan While Breastfeeding? (Let Down Reflex & Other Causes)