What is Lactation Consultation?
Lactatation consultation is skilled clinical care for nursing parents and their babies, including assessment of latch, milk supply, and much more. A lactation consultation can address pain, low milk supply, pumping issues, and a wide variety of other problems, as well as create feeding plans and provide personalized plans for addressing issues.
What is a Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)?
IBCLC stands for International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, and is the most comprehensive certification available to lactation professionals. IBCLCs are health professionals who specialize in the clinical management of lactation.
The IBCLC is the only certification that specifically has a clinical scope of practice. IBCLCs can provide differential assessments (latch, breast and infant oral anatomy), comprehensive lactation management (supply issues, feeding issues including feeding plans, pumping concerns), and much more.
Training for IBCLCs includes 500-1000 hours of clinical, hands-on, supervised training as well as a variety of lactation specific and other health-related courses, which must all be completed prior to approval to take the board exam. In addition, the IBCLC must recertify every five years, alternating 75 hours of lactation-specific continuing education credits and retaking the board exam every ten years. You can learn more about the IBCLC certification here.
What is non-clinical breastfeeding support?
Non-Clinical Breastfeeding Support includes those trained as peer support (such as La Leche League Leaders or Breastfeeding USA Peer Counselors), lactation educators, and other types of breastfeeding counselors. The training requirements for these certifications are less rigorous than those for IBCLCs, and do not include clinical skills.
What about support groups?
Support groups are available in a variety of locations and formats, and are facilitated by a variety of professionals and volunteers. Hospitals often provide groups for patients after discharge, private practice IBCLCs sometimes facilitate groups, and some groups are led by a peer counselor (such as La Leche League or Breastfeeding USA). It is important to call ahead to determine what services are provided at the group you are considering, such as whether a scale is available to weigh the baby. It is important to also ask about the qualifications of the persons facilitating the group, any age limit for the baby, and cost. Groups are best for general questions as clinical assessements cannot be carried out in a group format, and size of the group can limit the amount of time the facilitator has to answer more in depth individual questions.