Breastfeeding seems simple — stick your breast in your baby's mouth and feed. But it isn't always that easy. Breastfeeding moms often find themselves worried and frustrated when they face issues related to breastfeeding, whether it be concerns about their milk supply, breast pain, or poor latching. This is where the invaluable support and advice of lactation consultants comes in. If you are looking for breastfeeding support and are concerned with how it will affect you financially, you'll want to know, how much do lactation consultants cost?
According to La Leche League International, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) is a health care professional, certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners under the direction of the US National Commission for Certifying Agencies, who specializes in the clinical care of breastfeeding, and can work in hospitals, clinics, medical offices, or private practices. Many moms who find themselves struggling with breastfeeding issues can benefit immensely with the support of an IBCLC.
While speaking with Romper, IBCLC Lindsay Greenfield says that under the Affordable Care Act, which is often referred to as Obamacare, all women are entitled to six preventative care visits for lactation, which means that these visits have no co-pay and no deductible. "Therefore, they are free to the patient and I directly bill insurance for these visits, so my mothers see me for no cost," Greenfield says.
But not all IBCLCs operate like Greenfield does. "I work in a hospital, and moms that deliver with us can see me for free after discharge as much as they would like postpartum in the first year," Angie Mann Natero, an IBCLC and Registered Nurse, tells Romper. She adds that while some hospitals offer free consultations, some do not, and lactation consultants can charge within a various range — some charge a few hundred dollars for a few private consultations.
Confused on the variety of prices? IBCLC Michelle Kunschke tells Romper that the range of pricing has a lot to do with location and costs of living. IBCLCs may also include different services with their consults, so prices can fluctuate from provider to provider accordingly. "Most IBCLCs charge what they need in order to be sustainable and continue in their practice," she says. Kunschke also notes that in order to get the best value of any IBCLC consult, you should have it done earlier, because the earlier it is done, the more the family can benefit from it. "We know that with early intervention, when there are problems at hand, the better the outcome will be. It is harder to turn things around the longer the problems are left unaddressed."
IBCLC Rachel O'Brien tells Romper that while the price of a visit with a consultant varies wildly by location, it is important to realize how much time your consultant puts into each visit. On her website, O'Brien breaks down her charge of $60 per hour for each consultation — everything from traveling to "prep work," which includes finding out what the issue is before she even sees you, counts. O'Brien also figured that during a one to two hour consultation, she's actually completed four to five hours of work, estimating that while lactation consultants only charge for their visit, most of them are doing much more for you that they're not charging for. "Most lactation consultants put in four to six extra hours of work into every home visit and do unlimited phone and email follow-ups at no charge," she says.
While the costs of a lactation consultant vary and depend on location and facility, there is no doubt that the support provided by lactation consultants is invaluable. Check with your insurance, your hospital, and your healthcare providers such as doulas, midwives, and OB-GYNs, for help with finding an IBCLC you can afford.