Breastfeeding is a personal decision for all new mothers, and one that can be made before or after the baby is born. New moms that desire to breastfeed might have questions like, "will I produce enough milk," "will it come easily," "what if my baby has a problem latching." The list goes on. This is where a lactation consultant can be really helpful in providing guidance, support, and advice. Many pregnant and new moms will want to know how to find a good lactation consultant before they start their breastfeeding journey.
Although breastfeeding is touted as natural, that doesn't mean it's necessarily easy. Some mothers find it really difficult for various reasons that are unique to them, and no mother should feel ashamed to reach out to a lactation consultant if they want or need to. Lactation consultants are professionals who are specifically trained in helping mothers with breastfeeding. The Baby Center website noted that lactation consultants may work in a hospital, a doctor's office, or they may have their own private practice. They can also teach classes.
To get an idea of your options it might be beneficial to start thinking about what you want in a lactation consultant before selecting one. Here are eight ways to find a good lactation consultant that will best accommodate your needs.
1. Research Online For Consultants In Your Area
A quick search online should pull up lactation consultants in your area. You can also try looking at websites that are specifically geared towards locating lactation consultants. The International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA) is a great place to start. It is an online directory full of lactation consultants that allows you to narrow down choices to your geographical location, which setting you'd like to visit them (clinic or private practice), and any additional skills and certifications that you desire in a consultant.
2. Only Consider Consultants That Are Certified
There are several certifications for lactation assistance, however other certifications aren't deemed as intensive and expert as the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) certification. According to the Second Nine Months website, IBCLC consultants are required to go through thousands of hours of hands on experience with mothers and babies. They also study anatomy, physiology as well as child development and other key areas of lactation.
3. Request A Referral From Your Doctor Or Your Child's Pediatrician
Chances are your OB-GYN or midwife is connected to the lactation community and will have great recommendations for you. If you've already found a pediatrician for your child you could also try asking them for suggestions.
The Mama Natural website suggested that moms go a step further and get a referral for an IBCLC lactation consultant which can help with getting consultant fees reimbursed by the insurance company. Paying for a lactation consultant may cost several hundred dollars per visit and can add up quickly.
Additionally, the National Women's Law Center noted that the Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to cover breastfeeding counseling, supplies, equipment, support, and counseling. However, putting that law into practice with insurance companies is proving to be a problem as some women are reporting, so having an actual doctor's referral might help when submitting claims.
4. Interview Consultants While You're Pregnant
Once you've done your research and gathered your recommendations it's time to meet with the consultants. The Second Nine Months website suggested you ask them how flexible they are, if they give individualized breastfeeding advice, if they're trained in certain areas that you might need specifically (for example, multiples), and what their feelings are about exclusive breastfeeding and supplementation. If anything they say to you makes you feel uncomfortable, move on. You'll find someone that's right for you, your needs, and your baby's needs.
5. Seek A Consultant That Is Supportive
You do not need a judgmental person for your lactation consultant. A consultant that imposes their parenting and breastfeeding beliefs on to you is not the right fit. You will want someone who can assess your needs and challenges, easily adapt to a new plan or technique if needed, and have your back (or boob) 100 percent of the time.
6. Look For Lactation Guidance That Is All About You And Your Baby
Every breastfeeding situation is unique and therefore a one size fits all approach will not work. The Second Nine Months website suggested that moms seek lactation consultants that have experience with certain issues and individual challenges. Wherever you are in your breastfeeding journey, you'll want a consultant that can help you specifically in that area.
7. Ask The Hospital
Most hospitals staff lactation consultants. Sometimes it's simply easier to set up lactation meetings while you're in the hospital recovering with your baby. If you're already going to a hospital that's in network for your insurance, chances are the lactation consultants will be in-network for you.
8. Consider A Virtual Breastfeeding Consultant
Many new moms may find it really hard to get out of the house with a newborn. Simply logging onto the computer for a virtual session with a lactation consultant is the easiest way to get help. From what is advertised on the Virtual Breastfeeding Help website, online sessions are usually less expensive than an in-person visit. The other bonus is they don't require you to get dressed in anything other than your pajamas.
Seeking help with breastfeeding is a great idea if you have questions or concerns. Lactation consultants can help you with whatever you are struggling with and support you on your breastfeeding journey.