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What is an IBCLC?

Updated: May 21, 2023




It is always shocking for me to hear that people have never heard of lactation consultants. Most times this is because access to lactation consultants have been a privilege for many or deemed unnecessary for others. I want to help families understand what we do and why we are important!


An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) is a skilled healthcare professional that manages and supports families in all aspects of breastfeeding. IBCLCs receive 90 hours of health education in addition to hundreds of hours of hands on learning. They work in collaboration with other members of a healthcare team in order to help a family reach their feeding goals. We collaborate with doctors, nurse practitioners, physician's assistants, speech therapists, occupational therapists, dentists, and more!


Where do they work?


Lactation consultants can work in variety of settings. Some of this depends on their skill or preference. These places include:


  1. Hospital

  2. Private practice

  3. Pediatrician/OBGYN/Dentist offices

  4. Research/Academic settings

  5. WIC/Public health clinics

The flexibility in our practices allow us to serve families in various settings to best meet their needs.


What do they do?

Lactation consultants are able to work with families before and after baby comes to support them in making a plan for feeding. We troubleshoot common problems that you may come across when breastfeeding. One of the most important things (and my absolute favorite) we do is EDUCATE! We are there to tell you what things you can expect and affirm you in your decision to breastfeed (or not) your baby. We can also help with things like:

Pumping

Assessing oral function of baby

Weaning

Alternative feeding methods

Bottle refusal

Combination feeding with formula

Transitioning to solids/purees


Why do I need one?


Well honestly because we are awesome! When you need your car fixed you go to a mechanic not a hairstylist. Although your OB/GYN or pediatrician can be a great resource, when feeding issues arise they really should be referring you to a person who is trained in breastfeeding management. We are skilled providers that are able to come up with comprehensive plans for feeding based on your goals and specific needs. Feeding is needed for all no matter what their specific plans are and we are here to help! Lactation consultants should not be a privilege and all lactating people should have access to one. We are basically your BFF (Best Feeding Friend)!


Under the Affordable Care Act lactation services are covered at 100% regardless of your insurance (there are a few plans that are exceptions since they were grandfathered in). Some plans may not have lactation consultants in network (which is another post for another day) but you can pay upfront and receive a superbill to send to your insurance for reimbursement. Sites like USLCA.org, ilca.org, and lactationnetwork.com have databases to help you find a lactation consultant in your area. Your local hospital, pediatrician, or OB/GYN's office often times have community resources as well.


Leave me a comment and let me know if you have any other questions about lactation consultants!



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