mother smiling at baby

How lactation consultants can support new moms and moms-to-be

The World Health Organization reports that “that mothers and other caregivers require active support for establishing and sustaining appropriate breastfeeding practices.” Whether breastfeeding comes easily for you or not, having a strong support system is absolutely key to helping you meet your nursing goals.

While your partner, family members and mom friends are there to cheer you on and pick you up when you’re feeling discouraged, no one is better prepared to help you with breastfeeding than an IBCLC, or International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. The title is a bit of a tongue twister, and the job is a bit of a mystery to moms. Read on to learn exactly what IBCLCs do, how they help moms and how you can you can schedule a consultation today.

What does an IBCLC do?

IBCLCs are certified healthcare professionals trained in the clinical management of breastfeeding—AKA breastfeeding experts. Plus, they are internationally recognized. IBCLCs are certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE), independently accredited by the National Commision for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE). IBCLCs must adhere to professional standards—to ensure that they provide quality breastfeeding help with mothers and their babies—and recertify every five years.

In addition to providing mothers and healthcare professionals with evidence-based education on breastfeeding and lactation, IBCLCs are breastfeeding advocates—supporting practices that encourage breastfeeding and discouraging those that do not.

As a new mother, you can expect an IBCLC to assist with you all types of breastfeeding situations, from helping you design a workday pumping schedule and storage plan to finding the best breastfeeding positions to helping you treat serious conditions such as mastitis and plugged ducts.

“A lactation consultant is invaluable to a mom,” says Ashland Women’s Health Director of Sales, Caitlin McNeily. “They’re basically your breastfeeding fairy godmother, personal cheerleader and new-mom support team all in one.” Whether you’re new to breastfeeding or a veteran, is equipped to help you get back on track and reach your goals.

Not only can an IBCLC help you reach your personal lactation goal, but they can also assist with common breastfeeding pitfalls—including low milk supply, breastfeeding pain and pain associated with pumping—upon performing a comprehensive assessment related to lactation. You don’t have to struggle alone. An IBLC can help find a solution for your pain, and continue to help you during every step of your breastfeeding journey—through your triumphs, challenges and every step in between.

Who needs an IBCLC?

EVERYONE, seriously. A lactation consultant should be a key member of you and your baby’s medical team, and a consultation as commonplace as a six-month check-up. This is the new standard of care, moms.

Breastfeeding doesn’t always come easy. A lactation consultant understands that and can address any breastfeeding issues you have along the way, upon completing an assessment of you and your little one. If your baby is struggling to latch or isn’t gaining weight properly, call an IBCLC for help. They can help determine the best breastfeeding positions to improve latching, develop feeding schedules for babies who are premature and even provide a referral to another healthcare professional if your condition needs further attention.

If breastfeeding is painful for you, contact an IBCLC. Mastitis, plugged ducts and engorgement are three conditions that can make breastfeeding difficult. It is important to seek professional help as soon as you begin to experience symptoms, as these conditions can come with serious complications. A lactation consultant can also help you determine how to avoid this complication in the future by conducting a pump observation and assessment.


If you are in the Chicagoland area, you can sign up for a free, in-home visit with a breastfeeding expert through the Lactation Network by Ashland Women’s Health. This service is currently available to moms living in the Greater Chicagoland area using Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois PPO, Cigna PPO and UnitedHealthcare PPO plans. To set up your insurance-covered, 90-minute consultation, reach out to our team today.