Two Important Lactation Care Questions Answered

by Danielle Harmon, MPH

Thank you to the United States Lactation Consultant Association (USLCA) for their contribution to our blog by sharing this article.

Why do I need skilled lactation care?

Families who choose breastfeeding for their infants are often faced with questions and difficulties throughout their journey. For a biological process that is “normal,” there can often be questions and concerns about proper technique, feeding position, what is expected for weight gain and sleep, and other questions that could use an expert to assist. Just as a family will take their healthy infant for regular check-ups, it can be beneficial to seek skilled lactation care from a trained lactation care provider.

How do I choose a lactation care provider?

Breastfeeding has never had more supporters than now, but how do families know how to access the right type of care for their needs? It can be difficult to navigate the acronyms and different resources to select among the credentials.  Here we’ve gathered and summarized the most commonly seen types of lactation care providers and their areas of expertise.

International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)

These health care professionals are certified to provide clinical lactation management.  Think of IBCLCs like a specialist you’ve been referred to. Sometimes a primary care physician is enough and sometimes you need a little more specialized assistance. USLCA houses a directory of member IBCLCs for parents to find and contact providers in their area or that offer telehealth appointments.

Counselor/Educator

Sometimes called Certified Lactation Counselors or Breastfeeding Educators, these lactation care providers provide education and guidance on basic breastfeeding techniques. These individuals serve as an important resource for “normal” breastfeeding questions and concerns that do not require clinical expertise.

Peer Counselors

You will meet wonderful peer counselors through communities like La Leche League or WIC. These providers have personal breastfeeding experience and provide crucial support to those in their community.

There are many credentials and training programs out there. For more details, please see “Who’s Who” on the USLCA website.