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Lactation Consultants: What They Do and Do I Need One?

The Boobie Whisperer Lactation Consultants: What do they do and do I need a lactation consultant

Estimated read time: 12 minutes

Read on for everything you need to know about lactation consultants to help you decide if you need one.

Ever wondered what a lactation consultant does? Or wondered if you need one? We’ve got your back.

We know that breastfeeding is an incredible and natural thing for both mama and baby. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with its fair share of breastfeeding struggles.

From the correct latch and cluster feeding to wondering if your baby’s getting enough milk to pumping, breastfeeding is a wild ride and doesn’t come easily for everyone. 

That’s where lactation consultants come in. But what exactly is a lactation consultant? What does a lactation consultant do, and would you benefit from working with one? Well, your friends at Titty City are here to provide all the answers you need to help you make the best choice for you.

And, as always mama, we’re so proud of you.

In this article:

Mother Pumper Greeting Card for New Mom Baby Shower

What is a lactation consultant?

While breastfeeding is a beautiful and natural thing, it can be a lot harder than many moms expect. So much so that many women give up on breastfeeding in the first month postpartum. In fact, according to the CDC, 60% of mothers don’t breastfeed for as long as they intended.

This is due to several reasons including:

  • Concerns about their baby’s weight or nutrition 
  • Issues with latching
  • Issues with lactation
  • Lack of support at work
  • Lack of support at home or from family
  • Unsupportive hospital practices and policies

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, with continued breastfeeding along with complementary foods for up to two years of age or older - also known as extended breastfeeding

So, what’s a mama to do if she wants to continue breastfeeding but she’s struggling with one or more of these issues? Don’t worry. Even if your baby isn’t perfecting their latch or your nipples feel like they're about to drop off, you don’t need to quit your breastfeeding journey.

This is where a lactation consultant can step in and work their magic. 

Ok. What is a lactation consultant?

In short, they are healthcare professionals who specialize in breastfeeding and supporting mothers. They also hold a special certification and provide prenatal education and preparation for expecting parents. 

While a lot of people can call themselves a lactation consultant or lactation specialist, if you want to find one to work with we recommend they are certified as an International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE).

Lactation Consultant Breast Pump and Water Bottle with Breastfeeding Stickers

What does a lactation consultant do? 

A lactation consultant is like a breastfeeding magician. They can step in and support you with every aspect of your breastfeeding journey. Let's take a look at the responsibilities of lactation consultants and lactation consultant services.

Lactation consultants can assist you with issues including:

  • Specific tips on breastfeeding
  • Offering counseling if you have any questions or concerns
  • Refusal to feed
  • Poor milk supply
  • Latching issues
  • Showing you how to calm your baby if they get fussy during feeds
  • Getting comfortable with breastfeeding
  • Learning breastfeeding positions
  • Breast or nipple discomfort
  • Baby’s weight gain
  • Engorgement
  • Pumping

Lactation consultants can also help you before you give birth. They can provide advice and information to help your breastfeeding journey get off to the best start, including holding prenatal classes where you can learn about the various aspects of nursing, including any challenges that might crop up. This can help set realistic expectations about breastfeeding, especially as what we see in pop culture isn’t always a realistic depiction of breastfeeding!

If you work with a consultant after giving birth, when you first meet with them they’ll ask you about your and your little one’s health, and enquire about your pregnancy and delivery. They’ll also want to know how much your baby weighed when born and how much they weigh now. 

They’ll also ask questions about how breastfeeding is going, how many wet and dirty diapers they have a day, and then they’ll check specific things including:

  • How your baby looks and if they seem fussy
  • Your breasts and nipples
  • Checking how they feed and your position
  • Checking their latch
  • Correcting any breastfeeding issues that are present

They will also provide you with written instructions to follow and give you information about local breastfeeding support groups. 

Not only can they provide practical help, but lactation consultants are also there to support YOU. Breastfeeding and life postpartum are emotional rollercoasters, and having a specialist on your team to guide and support you can be invaluable. 

 

Little Milk Bar Milk Maker Print

 

Why do I need a lactation consultant?

The truth is, every mama is different and the same is true for every breastfeeding journey. You may find that you need breastfeeding challenges help for overcoming breastfeeding issues.  

The type of support you need is completely personal, and a qualified lactation specialist can tailor their advice to your individual situation. Whether it’s concerns about tongue tie, breast discomfort, nipple pain, how much milk you’re producing, feeding twins or other multiples, feeding a preemie, or which position is best for you, a lactation consultant is there to help.  The main thing here is that lactation consultants are there to offer support for breastfeeding moms.

If issues arise after giving birth and leaving the hospital, you can seek the help of a lactation specialist to make sure you’re on the right track. They can come to your home and determine if any changes or adjustments need to be made and help address any worries you might have. 

If you’re not sure if you’ll need a lactation consultant or not, don’t worry Breastie. You can see one at different points throughout your pregnancy, after giving birth, and throughout your breastfeeding journey. There are no set rules and the number of times you can see one will vary based on your individual needs. So even if you need a little help, such as advice with latching, you might only need to see one a couple of times. 

It’s a good idea to call a lactation consultant while you’re pregnant, as they can help you mentally and physically prepare for breastfeeding. But even if you don’t, don’t worry. You can always ask for help after your little one is born. 

Benefits of a lactation consultant

There are many advantages of seeing a lactation consultant, and how lactation consultants can help you reach your breastfeeding goals.

As well as the plethora of benefits listed already throughout this article, another benefit of working with a lactation specialist is if you are planning on returning to work and want to continue breastfeeding. 

Your lactation consultant can advise you on how this is possible, including when to nurse during the day when you’re with your little one, and how to establish a pumping routine to fit in around work. They can help you create a pumping schedule and advise you on how to use your pump, how to store your milk, and how to ensure your supply isn’t affected. 

One of the main benefits is the positive impact hiring a lactation consultant can have on your breastfeeding journey. Studies have proven this time and time again, and if you’re feeling happy and adjusted to breastfeeding, it’s good news for your baby and for your mental health. We can’t think of any greater benefit than that.  

Wondering how to find a lactation consultant? We recommend searching for one on the International Lactation Consultant Association’s website. You can enter your zip code to find a consultant local to you. You can also ask your local La Leche League leader for a list of IBCLCs that they recommend. 

Boob Mug for new moms and lactation consultants

Lactation consultant cost

If hiring a lactation specialist is sounding good to you, then the next question you might be thinking is how much does a lactation consultant cost? 

As with any good help, there are lactation consultant fees. The cost of a lactation consultation isn’t cheap either. After all, you’re paying for a certified expert. While some consultants work in hospitals and can provide support straight after giving birth, many are private consultants who charge a variety of fees based on many factors, including your location, their education level, and their years of experience.  

While it may cost more, using a private lactation consultant or a lactation specialist practice can be more beneficial for your personal needs, as they work and come to you as and when you need them. These services can range anywhere from $75 to $300 per visit.

It is possible to find affordable lactation support and there may be resources in your community. Ask around to other new moms you know.

It is also becoming super common to register for lactation support on your baby registry! Yep, that's right. This will help you budget for a lactation consultant if you end up needing one.

Is a lactation consultant covered by insurance?

Most insurance providers offer full coverage of an initial lactation consultant visit while you and your baby are still in the hospital. However, after this initial visit, many providers’ coverage becomes more limited. 

While the cost of hiring a consultant privately isn’t the cheapest, thankfully, the Affordable Care Act has made it required for insurance companies to provide some relief from this expense. 

Most Marketplace plans must provide breastfeeding equipment and counseling for pregnant and nursing moms for the duration of their breastfeeding journey, however, not all coverage is the same, so it’s always worth checking with your health insurance provider. You can find out more here

Breastfeeding stickers for breast pump and water bottle

When to find a lactation consultant

It's always best to be prepared. While you are pregnant, during your second or third trimester, it is a good idea to start planning for postpartum - the period after giving birth.

Seeking help from a lactation consultant

It is completely possible that breastfeeding is a breeze for you, however, if it is not (and in many cases, it is not smooth sailing), it is great to have a lactation consultant's phone number already in your phone. When you are in the thick of the first few weeks with your newborn, you have enough to focus on. Seeking help from a lactation consultant may end up at the top of your priority list, but finding a lactation consultant when you are already in need may not be so easy.

So if you are asking yourself, when should I find a lactation consultant? Do yourself a favor and plan ahead. Find a lactation consultant or two and have their number ready in case you need to use it.  The best time to consult a lactation specialist is while you are pregnant. Start a conversation over the phone or in person. That way you are both familiar with each other if you need their professional breastfeeding support.

 Funny Baby Shower Greeting Card that says, "Always Boob O'clock" with a boob for a clock

Is a lactation consultant worth it?

Only you can answer this question mama.

Working with a lactation consultant is amazing, especially if it’s financially doable, and if you are struggling with breastfeeding your little milk monster. Professional breastfeeding help can provide incredible and personal support, guidance, and wisdom. A lactation consultant brings expert help for nursing mothers to assist you with your breastfeeding journey, and help you reach your breastfeeding milestone goals.

Did you work with a lactation consultant? What was your experience like? We’d love for you to share your journey over on our Instagram page. 

At Titty City Design, we believe that every boobie is beautiful, and that should be celebrated. We are a female-owned and operated, small business here to spread self-love and body positivity with our line of boob apparel, boob accessories, and boob-themed decor and products for the home. A portion of our proceeds goes to help support postpartum people and breast cancer patients.

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