Postnatal depression - Postpartum period
Author: TLN

Meeting With a Lactation Consultant

How an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) provides the breastfeeding support you deserve

You are your baby’s whole world. It’s a bond that is like no other. With your most precious little one relying on you for the necessary nutrients to grow and thrive, make sure you’re taking advantage of every opportunity to provide your baby with your all-nourishing breast milk. One of the easiest ways to do this is by meeting with a board-certified lactation consultant

What is an IBCLC?

IBCLCs are lactation experts who have gone through the International Board Certification process to earn their titles—a program requiring 90 hours of training, 300 to 1,000 hours of clinical experience, extensive health sciences coursework and passing the IBCLC exam. Trust us when we say that having an expert who specializes in lactation on your side is a huge help on your breastfeeding journey.

These superheroes provide the highest standard of care to breastfeeding families. They can answer any questions that arise from the first latch to the last bottle and everything in between. They’ll guide you through common breastfeeding issues such as difficulty nursing, painful breastfeeding and increasing your milk supply. By providing individualized support and expert guidance, an IBCLC helps you stay on track to meet your breastfeeding goals.

When should I find a lactation consultant and schedule my appointment?

Every new mom should receive lactation services within the first week of their baby’s birth. This will help to confirm a healthy latch and assess the baby for tongue or lip tie. After that, IBCLCs can offer support throughout your whole nursing experience. 

Whether you’re looking for peace of mind that your baby is getting enough milk, confidence in your latch and positioning, help going back to work or guidance with a recent challenge, schedule a visit with a lactation consultant. Most insurance plans will even cover multiple visits, so it’s a no brainer. 

Here are a few times when you should definitely reach out for the expert help of an IBCLC. 

Before Delivery

Yes. You read that right, even before your baby is born. Meeting with a lactation consultant before you give birth is a great way to create your breastfeeding plan ahead of delivery day. And, this way you’ll be able to take in all the information before you’re sleep-deprived with a newborn at your side. Just think of this as a master class in preparing to breastfeed. Knowing what to do will help you start your breastfeeding journey on the right note and prepare you for long-term success. 

In the Hospital After Delivery

Many hospitals have a part- or full-time IBCLC on staff to support breastfeeding moms after delivery. These lactation consultants will help you initiate breastfeeding. However, they are also in charge of working with other families in the hospital and will typically spend around 20 minutes with you. If you want more one-on-one breastfeeding support, schedule time with a private practice IBCLC. These sessions typically last 90 minutes and offer more individualized care. Having an IBCLC who is entirely focused on you and your baby can help make sure you’re able to take advantage of the golden hour.

During the First Week

Once you’re home, having a newborn gets even more real. Without your healthcare team by your side, it’s up to you and your family to ensure your baby is getting everything they need. An IBCLC will help with latching, positioning, measuring how much breast milk your baby is getting and so much more. They’ll answer your questions, troubleshoot any issues and let you know that you’re doing amazing—because you are.

At Any Point in Your Breastfeeding Journey

IBCLCs provide breastfeeding support anytime you need it—including when you confront a challenge or setback. IBCLCs can also help moms figure out how to use their breast pump, determine a pumping schedule when it’s time to head back to work, provide support with weaning and introducing solids in addition to anything else that comes up. An IBCLC knows how important breast milk is to your baby’s development and will use their expertise to help you reach those breastfeeding milestones.

Can I visit with a lactation consultant online?

Many lactation consultants do offer telehealth appointments. Depending on the situation, location and schedule, you and your IBCLC can determine the best kind of visit for you. If you prefer to meet in person, visits also can take place in your home or in a consultant’s office.

Why is breastfeeding so important?

The World Health Organization recommends that all breastfeeding mothers receive support to provide their babies with the health benefits of long-term breastfeeding, from increased early immunity to a lower risk for obesity and more. Plus, lactation care is covered by insurance as part of the Affordable Care Act. So don’t miss out on connecting with a person who is dedicated—and qualified—to provide essential lactation care. 

A lactation consultant can help you make it through six months of exclusive breastfeeding—the recommendation given by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the WHO—and keep supporting you as you reach that one year mark. Think of it like this, mom: You wouldn’t hesitate to reach out for help when learning a new skill. So, why not take advantage of the help of a trained expert when it comes to something so precious?

Where can I find a lactation consultant near me?

We have great news—the Lactation Network can help you find an IBCLC nearby! We partner with IBCLCs across the U.S. and can help locate one in your region. All of the lactation consultants in our network have their IBCLC certification, so you know you’re meeting with someone who will provide you the highest quality of lactation care. On top of that, we verify your insurance coverage for free to determine if your visit will be covered. Request a consultation through us to connect with an IBCLC in your area today.