7 Things to Know About Lactation Consultants

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Jennifer L.W. Fink, RN, BSN on September 17, 2020
  • Lactation consultant visits new mom
    Need help with breastfeeding? Call a lactation consultant.
    Breastfeeding may be natural, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It can take a while for both mom and baby to get the hang of breastfeeding, and in the meantime, milk supply concerns and sore nipples can cause a lot of frustration. Lactation consultants, or LCs, can help moms, babies and couples solve breastfeeding challenges and develop confidence. Here are seven facts you may not know about lactation consultants and the care they provide.
  • Lactation consultant teaching new mother how to breastfeed
    1. Lactation consultants are trained breastfeeding experts.
    Nurses who work with new moms often give breastfeeding help and advice. So do Ob/Gyn physicians. But most doctors and nurses have little formal education regarding breastfeeding. Lactation consultants, on the other hand, have completed 90 hours of lactation education and have at least 1,000 hours of clinical experience with breastfeeding moms and babies. They also must pass an international certification exam and participate in continuing education. A board-certified lactation consultant uses the initials IBLC (“international board-certified lactation consultant”) behind his or her name.
  • Pregnant woman
    2. Lactation consultants can prepare you for breastfeeding before your baby is born.
    Many lactation consultants offer breastfeeding classes or pre-birth consultations to expectant parents. Such classes and consultations are a helpful opportunity to learn about breastfeeding and address any concerns ahead of time. A lactation consultant can help you understand the normal process of breastfeeding and equip you to identify any signs of trouble, so you can seek help early, if it’s needed. A pre-birth lactation consultation can be particularly useful for moms-to-be who have had previous breast surgery.
  • Healthcare Worker Giving Advice to a Breastfeeding Mother
    3. Lactation consultants can help at home or in the hospital.
    Many lactation consultants work on staff at hospitals; one may visit you soon after you give birth. However, lactation consultants work in many different settings, including doctor’s offices, public health clinics, and private practice. Many lactation consultants will provide house calls. To find a lactation consultant near you, you can search on Healthgrades, visit the International Lactation Consultant Association website, or ask your healthcare provider to recommend one.
  • Midwife supporting a breastfeeding mother
    4. Lactation consultants tailor their advice to your needs.
    A lactation consultant will help you reach your infant feeding goals. If you’re struggling with sore nipples, the lactation consultant will assess your baby’s latch and offer advice to make breastfeeding more comfortable. If you’re worried about whether your baby is getting enough milk, a lactation consultant can weigh your baby before and after feeding to determine his intake and show you how you can increase your milk supply, if necessary.
  • Mother bottle feeding infant
    5. Lactation consultants are not anti-formula.
    Lactation consultants are pro-breastfeeding, but that doesn’t mean they’re anti-formula. In fact, in some cases, supplementing with formula can help a mom and baby maintain a breastfeeding relationship. A lactation consultant will help you figure out how to meet your baby’s nutritional needs while maintaining your own physical and emotional health. Your infant feeding plan may change over time—as you go back to work, for instance. A good lactation consultant will support your priorities and should never make you feel guilty about your personal choices.
  • Pediatrician visits new mom at home
    5. A lactation consultant can help you master breast pumping.
    Breast pumps can be used to provide milk for a premature baby, to increase milk supply, and to maintain milk production after returning to work. In other words: a breast pump is an essential tool for many breastfeeding moms. A lactation consultant can give you advice on breast pump selection and even observe a pumping session, so she can provide specific tips to achieve maximum comfort and efficiency during the process.
  • Mom and happy newborn
    6. Lactation consultants increase the likelihood of breastfeeding success.
    The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for at least one year, but most moms don’t reach that milestone. (According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 60% of moms do not breastfeed as long as they intend to.) However, research shows that moms who work with lactation consultants are more likely to breastfeed and to continue breastfeeding. Research has even shown that having a lactation consultant in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) increases the likelihood that premature and ill babies will receive breastmilk. 
  • Caucasian couple holding baby
    7. Lactation consultants are cost-effective.
    In many cases, health insurance will cover lactation consultant services. This is in part because insurance companies are beginning to see the link between breastfeeding support, breastfeeding success, and improved health for both mom and baby. If you must pay out of pocket for a lactation consultant, the $200 or so you may spend per visit is still usually significantly less than the cost of formula over time. Hiring a lactation consultant is an investment that can decrease stress and save you money in the long run.
Lactation Consultants | 7 Things to Know About LC Breastfeeding Care

About The Author

Jennifer L.W. Fink, RN, BSN is a Registered Nurse-turned-writer. She’s also the creator of BuildingBoys.net and co-creator/co-host of the podcast On Boys: Real Talk about Parenting, Teaching & Reaching Tomorrow’s Men. Most recently, she is the author ofThe First-Time Mom's Guide to Raising Boys: Practical Advice for Your Son's Formative Years.
  1. Your Guide to Breastfeeding. Office on Women’s Health. https://www.womenshealth.gov/files/documents/your-guide-to-breastfeeding.pdf
  2. Professional Support. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/pdf/BF_guide_5.pdf
  3. Position Paper on the Role and Impact of the IBLC. International Lactation Consultant Association. https://higherlogicdownload.s3.amazonaws.com/ILCA/e3ee2b6e-c389-43de-83ea-f32482f20da5/UploadedImages/WHY%20IBCLC/Role%20of%20IBCLC/Role%20%20Impact%20of%20the%20IBCLC.pdf
  4. The Effectiveness of Lactation Consultants and Lactation Counselors on Breastfeeding Outcomes - Sanjay Patel, Shveta Patel, 2016. (2018). Journal Of Human Lactation. Retrieved from http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0890334415618668?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori%3Arid%3Acrossref.org&rf
  5. Dweck, N., Augustine, M., Pandya, D., Valdes-Greene, R., Visintainer, P., & Brumberg, H. (2007). NICU lactation consultant increases percentage of outborn versus inborn babies receiving human milk. Journal Of Perinatology, 28(2), 136-140. doi:10.1038/sj.jp.7211888. Online at https://www.nature.com/articles/7211888
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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Sep 17
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