How to Find a Lactation Consultant
You've done your research about everything you can think of to help your baby. And how you feed them is at the top of your priority list. But no matter how many articles you read or friends you ask, you just can't seem to get the hang of it. Your baby is frustrated, you're exhausted, and you're ready to throw in the towel. But before you do, consider reaching out to a lactation consultant. A lactation consultant can give you the support and guidance you need to make breastfeeding a success. But with so many options out there, how do you choose the right one? Read on to find out.
What is a lactation consultant?
A lactation consultant is a healthcare professional who specializes in supporting mothers with feeding their babies. They can help you establish and maintain a successful feeding relationship with your baby, in whatever way you want to feed them.
International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC'S) are different from breastfeeding counselors or lactation counselors. Breastfeeding counselors are typically peer-support providers who have received training in breastfeeding but are not health care professionals. While they can be a great resource, they may not have the clinical expertise of a lactation consultant for difficult cases.
What do lactation consultants do?
Lactation consultants provide one-on-one support for mothers and families who want to breastfeed their babies. They offer individualized support on everything from latching to milk production. They can also help identify and address underlying conditions that may be affecting your ability to breastfeed successfully. Lactation consultants can also help your baby with bottle feeding. Think of a lactation consultant as your team captain to help make feeding feel good for you and your baby.
Is it ever too late to find a lactation consultant?
Feeding problems can happen at any point along the way, and lactation consultants are ready to help. Whether your baby is 1 week, 1 month or 1 year, they have skills to help you understand and solve your feeding problems, or help point you in the direction you need to go.
How much does it cost?
The cost of seeing a lactation consultant will vary depending on your insurance coverage and the type of service you're seeking (whether you are seeking a home visit or an office visit), where you live, and how experienced the lactation consultant is. The out-of-pocket cost (without insurance) for a 60-90 min consult can vary from $80-$250.
What about insurance?
Many insurance plans will cover at least some of the cost of seeing a lactation consultant, so be sure to check with your provider before making an appointment. While it varies from plan to plan, Aetna, Cigna, Humana and Blue-Cross/Blue Shield, GEHA and Tricare often provide insurance coverage. Many lactation consultants work directly with insurance companies to help make sure new families get the support they need. Other lactation consultants may work in collaboration with a pediatrician, nurse practitioner or other health care professional to help you get insurance coverage.
So how do you go about finding a good lactation consultant? Here are five tips
1. Ask around. Talk to your mom friends, your baby's pediatrician, or even your neighborhood groups and see if they have any recommendations for you. Personal referrals are always a great way to find someone you can trust.
2. Do your research. Once you have a few names to work with, take some time to research each one online. Read reviews on their website or on third-party sites like Yelp or Google. Check out their presence on social media to see if how they talk resonates with you.
3. Make sure the lactation consultants on your list have experience working with mothers in similar situations as yours (e.g., if you're dealing with low milk supply, look for someone who has helped other mothers in that situation). Not all lactation consultants have the same background or skill set. It's OK to reach out to them directly and ask if they can help you. Cross off anyone who doesn't have the skills to help your specific needs.
4. Go with your gut. After doing all of the above, you should have a good idea of which lactation consultant is right for you. When in doubt, go with the one you feel most comfortable with—after all, this is someone who will be seeing (and probably touching) some pretty intimate parts of your body!
If you are struggling with feeding, a lactation consultant can be the difference in whether or not you feel successful feeding your baby. Finding a good lactation consultant can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be. By following these four simple tips—checking with your insurance company, asking around for referrals, doing your research online, and going with your gut—you'll be well on your way to finding the help you need.