- Jennifer L. Gerard
Your Lactation Support Team...Planning For Success!
I’m a planner. I always have been. One thing I recommend for all new moms is to plan for the “what if’s” with regards to lactation. Not to dwell on things that might not go as planned, but just to know that you will know who to call when you need some help along the way! As a Family Nurse Practitioner with additional certification as an IBCLC, it’s one of the most common questions I hear - “Who do I call for help?”. So, who do you call for help? Who are you going to call?
Identifying and building this support system of “who to call” is an important part of your lactation “tool box”. A little groundwork ahead of time can lessen the stress down the road. Worst case, you won’t need it and you can be a resource to another mother in your area when she needs help!
Here are my top tips for building your stellar support system!
1. Initial support
Does your birth location offer lactation support? Find out if your hospital or birth center has a Lactation Consultant on staff to help the first few days. Even if things are going well, a latch check before you go home is a great idea! If they don't, I recommend you go ahead and plan for a home visit from a local Lactation Consultant around day 3-4. Quite often, minor issues can be identified and addressed before they become big deals! See "Ongoing Support" below for more info on lactation home visits!
2. Support groups
Did you know many hospitals have a breastfeeding support group? I helped start one at a large hospital in Fort Worth, TX when I was on staff and it was amazing! The moms loved it and honestly it was one of the highlights of MY week! If your hospital does not have a group, La Leche League is a great resource (https://www.llli.org/get-help/ )! Find out when your local group meets and get it on your calendar for after delivery. I recommend you go at least one to see what it’s all about!
3. Ongoing support
Who are your local Lactation Consultants for home (or clinic) visits? This is your go-to person for latch checks, initial investigation of supply issues, pain with latch, how to use your pump, bottle feeding challenges, etc. Some IBCLC’s will even do virtual visits! ICLA (https://ilca.org/why-ibclc-falc/) and USLCA (https://uslca.org/resources/find-an-ibclc/) are two national organizations with directories based on location.
Do you know what your insurance covers for lactation support? If you have health insurance, your plan should cover lactation consultation visits. Generally, they cover a certain number of visits and MAY want you to see someone in their network. This process can be challenging to navigate so find out ahead of time what their “rules” are. I recommend you find out which IBCLC's they cover near you and if there is not a local IBCLC on your plan, they will often cover someone “out of network”. This process takes time to investigate so I recommend you do it well ahead of any issues.
For more info on insurance coverage, see the link below. It is from the New York Lactation Consultant Association and references New York but the information applies no matter where you live! https://www.nylca.org/blog/how-to-get-insurance-to-pay-for-your-lactation-consultant
5. Medical concerns
Do you know who to call if you have mastitis, chronic low milk supply, nipple damage, rashes on the breast, or other issues requiring medical investigation and treatment? I recommend you locate a Provider supportive of lactation that can treat you for medical concerns (this may be your OB-GYN or midwife). Not every Provider is comfortable treating lactating women. Often mothers are incorrectly told that certain medications cannot be taken during lactation and they need to “pump and dump” or, worse, wean their baby. We would love to be part of your plan and are experienced in treating lactating women safely while protecting lactation. We are happy to help if you have a medical concern and live in Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Nebraska and New Mexico! Same-day and next-day appointments are often available. No waiting rooms, no hassle and we can provide a Superbill to submit to insurance for reimbursement.
Please note: For simplicity, this blog posts references breastfeeding but information applies whether you are partially breastfeeding, feeding with a supplementer at the breast, exclusively pumping, etc. It is not intended to exclude anyone and all are important! Everyone has the right to choose the best journey for you and your baby and we are here to help!