Lactation Consultants – What Do They Do and How Can They Help?

November 12, 2013

Did you know that almost three-quarters of all nursing moms get outside help for breastfeeding questions and issues? The wide majority of insurance plans cover lactation support, and the right help can mean the difference between breastfeeding struggle and success. Because many moms abandon breastfeeding due to difficulties early on, it’s especially important to know what types of resources are available and how they can most effectively be leveraged in order to help you reach your breastfeeding goals.

Lactation Consultants are professionals who are passionate about helping moms and babies breastfeed successfully. They are trained experts on guiding women through breastfeeding problems including latch issues, painful nursing, and low milk supply. In order to become a certified Lactation Consultant, they must complete at least 1,000 supervised clinical hours with mothers and babies. They may be certified as a nurse, midwife, or other licensed healthcare profession, and have taken college-level classes on human anatomy, infant development, nutrition, psychology, and other topics.

LCs might work at a hospital, clinic, doctor’s office or even have a private consultation practice. They might also teach classes on breastfeeding or train others to counsel women on breastfeeding. All Lactation Professionals must complete continuing education to maintain their certification and keep their skills sharp, too.

Lactation Consultants are also familiar with breastfeeding equipment like breast pumps and can recommend helpful tools such as nipple shields or nipple care. They know the ins-and-outs of breast milk storage and can answer specific questions based on your unique breastfeeding, pumping, and breast milk bottle-feeding routine.

To find a Lactation Professional or resources near you, reach out to your OB/GYN or pediatrician – they might already partner with a Lactation Consultant to give you the best care possible, or they may be able to recommend a professional to you. You can also check with your insurer to see what type of counseling is covered under your plan. Or, search for a Lactation Professional near you via the International Lactation Consultant Association’s website or Medela’s locator. We also offer a free, one-on-one consultation with our LC over email. You can ask the LC here.

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