Breastfeeding - Pregnancy
Author: TLN

How to Get the Most Out of Your Visit with an IBCLC 

Here’s what you need to know before your consultation with a lactation consultant.

Whether you’re pregnant and planning ahead, heading back to work and need to start pumping, or experiencing complications while breastfeeding, scheduling a consultation with an IBCLC can be the best thing for you and your baby. 

An IBCLC is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. The highest accredited healthcare professionals specializing in lactation, IBCLCs are there to give you the personalized, expert care you deserve. At The Lactation Network, we work exclusively with IBCLCs to deliver the gold standard in care. They may work with you and your baby in your home, at their office, or virtually (depending on their specific practice). They work to support you in your feeding goals to achieve success, lend a hand in troubleshooting any issues you (or baby) may experience, and can be a resource from pregnancy through weaning. 

How do you make the most out of this consultation with your own personal breastfeeding champion? There are a few things you can do to prepare before, during, and after a consult so you and your little one can get the most out of your consultation. 

Before Your Consultation

Because IBCLCs can help you with all things breastfeeding, think about what you want to discuss during your consultation! You can dedicate the entire session to going over breastfeeding positions, working on latching, or talking through the breastfeeding experience and the emotions that may arise around breastfeeding. Remember, IBCLCs are there to help you. 

Plan Ahead 

Did you know that prenatal breastfeeding education increases breastfeeding success rates? If possible, preparing for a lactation visit while you’re pregnant is ideal. That way, you won’t have to worry about setting up an appointment while you’re bringing baby home, and you already have an established relationship with a provider you chose beforehand, know, and trust.  

The first two weeks of lactation is a critical time period and where many families need immediate support from an IBCLC. During the early postpartum period, the learning curve of breastfeeding is best navigated with the most clinically accurate breastfeeding support. That’s why getting help from an IBCLC early on is vital and increases breastfeeding rates long term.

Make the Most of Pre-Consultation Communication

While every IBCLC has their own communication style, whether that is through in-person, email, or phone correspondence, it is important to provide them with as much information ahead of time as you can. Let your IBCLC know of any surgical or medical history. Don’t hold back any past medical history. Even small procedures or hormonal imbalances may impact lactation. Make sure to include information about your social situations and stressors as well. Be thorough in offering information and allow the IBCLC to determine what factors may potentially impact lactation. 

Set Goals for the Consultation

Make sure you’re communicating the desired goals of your consultation with your lactation consultant. Whether you want to increase your supply, set up a pumping routine for going back to work, or so much more, let your IBCLC know what you’d like to get out of this consultation.  

Keep in mind that consultations have limitations. If you have several areas of concern, it may take a series of several consultations to get you on the right track. If you have concerns that are out of the IBCLC’s scope of practice, they may refer you to your physician or, with your permission, reach out to your primary care provider to collaborate on your care. 

Pick the Right Spot 

If you’re having a lactation consultation at your home, think about where you’ll be most comfortable during your consultation. If you usually nurse in a favorite chair, pump in bed, or breastfeed in a recliner, let your IBCLC know so that you can receive help in the exact location in your house you prefer. They are there to help you and your baby, so make the most out of this consultation. 

For parents and babies consulting a lactation consultant at their office or clinic, make sure to connect with them beforehand to see if there is anything you should bring to make the most out of your consultation. 

During Your Consultation 

The day of your lactation consultation is here! Relax and enjoy getting the one-on-one attention you and your baby deserve from a clinical lactation expert. 

Consultations typically last between 30 to 90 minutes. During this time, you can expect your IBCLC to weigh your baby pre- and post-feeding. In an ideal situation, plan to time your breastfeeding or pumping so that the baby is most likely going to be hungry upon the arrival of the IBCLC. IBCLCs realize this is easier said than done and know newborns can’t wait. If you need to, feed your baby, but let your IBCLC know. Likewise, don’t pump an hour or two prior to the consultation. Full breasts and a getting-hungry baby are ideal as you begin your meeting with an IBCLC. 

Also, make sure to go over any issues and goals you may have brought up in your pre-consultation communications. (Pro tip: Write down any questions ahead of time, so you don’t forget in the moment.) The IBCLC is here to help you during what is one of the most precious and fleeting times of new motherhood. We want you to be comfortable and hope that you gain confidence during the consultation. Before the IBCLC departs, be sure to discuss the timing of any potential additional consultations. 

If your consultation is at your home, only small preparations are needed: 

  • Access to a sink so your IBCLC can wash their hands 
  • An accessible flat surface near an outlet to set up a feeding scale (if they are bringing a scale) 
  • An assembled pump, cleaned pump parts, nursing pillows, and any other lactation technology you use (such as shields) in the area of the meeting 
  • Contain all (even friendly) pets 

After Your Consultation 

Use the new tips and tricks your IBCLC worked with you on to enhance your breastfeeding journey. Remember, practice makes perfect for you and your baby. 

You will most likely receive a care plan at the time of your consultation or shortly thereafter. This is a recap of what was covered and any instructions or direction going forward. You can share this with physicians, or your IBCLC can fax or email the plan to your doctor with your permission.  

Feel free to keep in touch and set up any additional meetings with your IBCLC — they love to hear from you and see how your little one is progressing. 

If you’re looking for expert breastfeeding advice, contact The Lactation Network. We offer free in-home and in-office lactation consultations to families across the U.S. with specific insurance plans. 

Get the care you deserve

We’re here for you, every step of the way. We work with your insurance to provide in-home, in-office, or telehealth visits with an IBCLC.