Q&A: What should I look for in a lactation consultant?
I'm considering contacting a lactation specialist to help me make sure I'm on the right track nursing my newborn. What are some things I should look for during my search?
Good for you for being proactive! As you may already know, a lactation consultant’s (or LC’s) job is basically to help make breastfeeding simpler, more comfortable, and more successful for both you and your baby.
Lactation Consultant Services
The International Lactation Consultants Association (ILCA), a professional organization that certifies International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC), says that their consultants provide the following resources for expecting and new moms:
- Prenatal counseling about risk factors that may affect breastfeeding
- Information about basic position and latch of the infant
- Information about practices that promote successful breastfeeding
- Preventing and managing common concerns, such as poor latch, inadequate milk transfer or supply, nipple or breast pain, and calming a fussy baby
- Milk expression and storage for mothers who must be separated from their babies
- Strategies for breastfeeding after returning to work
- Breastfeeding in challenging situations, such as breastfeeding twins or triplets, a premature or sick infant, or infants in special medical situations
Finding the Right Lactation Consultant
One of the most important things to consider (aside from making sure your LC is board certified) is that you feel comfortable with her. This is someone who will work with you and your baby while you may be feeling vulnerable and unsure of yourself. I often tell
new moms to talk to friends or relatives who may have recently worked with someone for a recommendation.
If you are new to an area or don’t have anyone to refer you, check with your local hospital or pediatrician’s office. Many offices and most hospitals employ lactation consultants. There are also lactation consultants who are in private practice and make home visits or see mothers in a small private office.
If you have not delivered yet, do your homework and get some names, then set up an appointment to meet the candidates and discuss their philosophies. This will give you a chance to see if you feel comfortable with them.
Questions to Ask Potential Consultants
- Does she have any prenatal classes or postpartum support groups?
- What’s her availability (i.e., after hours and by phone) and hours
- What are her rates?
- Does she rent or sell breast pumps?
- Is she board certified? (This is different than a breastfeeding specialist)
Breastfeeding is something that many new moms need help with. Working with an LC to help answer your questions and give you tips and advice can make a big difference and will make the experience as enjoyable as possible!
Search for a local lactation consultant here: