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Lactation Consultants

Lactation Consultants can be a huge help. But keep in mind they are not all great. In what field can you find 100% of the practitioners to be perfect? This is also not a licensed profession, not yet anyway. Lactation Consulatants can be found either through (or working in) doctors' offices, private breastfeeding clinics, public health agencies, and hospitals. So ask your pediatrician, obstetrician, gynecologist, or hospital for a referral to a lactation consulatant in your area.

Be picky when you choose a lactation consulatant. Look for one who is certified, but there are also many who are not and are excellent with wonderful reputations and years of helping women. Also look for someone who has "IBCLC" (International Board of Certified Lactation Consultant) after his/her name (yes there are men in this field too). That means the consultant has passed a rigorous six-hour exam and has the IBCLCE (International Board of Certified Lactation Consultant Examiners) seal of approval.

Any lactation consultant should have a resume that you can ask to look at - this is not rude, it's business. Hours of lactation training, coursework, number of hours doing clinical practice (preferably supervised), academic and professional training, and membership to any professional organizations should be listed.

If your consultant comes well-recommended by a doctor, you should be fine. But pay attention to the advice you get. If the advice you get doesn't seem to make sense - for example, you are encouraged to use formula, or you are ingored and told to keep trying when you know there is a problem - seek out someone else. Not all consultants make house calls. You may have to go to them. If there is any question that there is somthing really wrong, get your baby to a doctor as soon as you can.

You can get advice on the phone for little stuff, but that's vastly different from seeing an expert who'll be able to diagnose and usually fix what's going wrong. Use the phone for support, basic questions, and small problems. Most of the time, you can find a lactation consultant who will answer questions over the phone for free. Some places charge for phone consults, so ask first. The Lactation Institute does phone consults, and although their time is not free, it is very reasonably priced considering their level of expertise.

How to find a Lactation Consultant -  The International Lactation Consultant Association can help you find one in your area. Phone number is (919) 787-5181 or their address is ILCA, 4101 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 201, Raleigh, NC 27607-6518

Again ask your doctor, pediatrician, or even your childbirth educator. You may also call La Leche League for a referral in your area.

Medela, the breast pump company, also has an 800 number you can call (1-800-TELL-YOU) for lists of local lactation consultants.

A lactation consultants fee depends on where you live and who you choose, but it's usually based on an hourly rate. If your doctor prescribes a visit to a consultant, your insurance company may pay for it.

If any of your friends or relatives don't knwo what to give you for a baby gift and have between $30-100 bucks to spend, tell them to give you a one-time lesson from a lactation consultant.

(Information from So That's What They're For!  by Janet Tamaro)


The people at Breastfeeding101 are not medical professionals. We are moms here to show support. Please consult your physician or LC for any medical questions you might have.