private practice lactation consultant at an in-home consultation with an expecting mother
Author: TLN

A match made: IBCLCs and the birth community

Many families choose holistic approaches to birth and feeding support, which requires birth workers and lactation consultants to adopt an integrated approach and explore ways of collaborating. As an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), working closely with OBs, midwives, and doulas in your community not only benefits local families — but also offers unique opportunities to grow your private practice and serve your community. In this article, we’ll look at a few ways IBCLCs and the birth community can partner to support families and each other.

Obstetricians and midwives

Build your contact list.

As with most good plans, a little research in the beginning goes a long way. Create (and maintain) a local provider list that includes contact information, website, and social media details. Reach out to each office and ask how providers would like to receive charts and communication. Send them (or hand deliver!) a package with your business cards and information about your practice.

Look for ways to add value to OB/GYN practices.

Can you offer a low-cost community prenatal breastfeeding class in their office? Or provide them with prenatal breastfeeding information for their newsletter or website?

Share your prenatal catalog of services.

In addition to prenatal classes, let OBs and midwives in your community know that you provide private prenatal lactation consultations. Many may not realize the value of prenatal lactation consultations or know what you cover in these sessions. If you’re a lactation consultant with The Lactation Network, inform these clinical partners that it’s easy to refer patients to you, as consultations are typically covered by the patient’s insurance. Once you establish a relationship with obstetricians and midwives in your community, they will appreciate the care and expert advice you provide.

Chart to OBs and midwives.

When appropriate, send a provider report updating them on the patient’s care. Additionally, during intake, ask your patients who their OB or midwife is and add them to your provider list as needed.


Support each other.

Many families are discovering the benefits of utilizing support from birth and postpartum doulas. Some of these families may also be planning to meet with IBCLCs, but others may think their support bases are covered. Similarly, it’s not uncommon for IBCLCs to meet families in the prenatal and postpartum period who would benefit from the support of a doula. Cross-promoting each other not only helps you both grow your businesses, but also creates a wonderful net of support for new families where doulas and lactation consultants bring their different, but complimentary, specialized skills.

Offer education.

Consider offering a “lactation for doulas” workshop, where you discuss the latest lactation research, when to reach out to an IBCLC, and “what to do in the meantime” measures for common lactation issues. Or ask local doulas how you can support their practice. Do you offer a service, or specialized care, that their families have been needing? Can you seek out additional lactation education that helps meet the needs of the community you live in?

Consider including doulas in lactation consultations.

When parents and doulas are both amenable, consider including doulas in both prenatal and postpartum lactation consultations. Everyone benefits when doulas are available to help implement and support the lactation plan you’ve provided.

Host an event.

Are you a new lactation consultant? Perhaps you just moved into a new office? Or maybe you’re celebrating a holiday? (IBCLC Day? World Breastfeeding Week?) Consider hosting an event and inviting local birth workers. It can be purely social, or you can bring in a speaker and provide community education. If you’d like to make it affordable, consider meeting in a park or making it a potluck. Be sure to collect contact information and follow-up with each person you meet.

Forming synergies and partnerships with local birth workers, including OBs, midwives, and doulas, is an effective way for IBCLCs to both grow their business while also improving maternal and infant health outcomes. Stronger clinical connections mean stronger, more supported families and communities, and IBCLCs are an integral part of that winning formula.

Are you new to building a private practice and looking for a step-by-step guide to establishing one? Log into the myTLN portal to access the “Starting Your Practice Playbook.” 

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