How To Find A Lactation Consultant (And Why You’d Want To)

Hiring the right Lactation Consultant can be one of the most important decisions a mom makes. In this post, you’ll learn how to find the best one for you.

How To Find A Lactation Consultant (And Why You'd Want To)

Breastfeeding has so many health benefits for you and your baby but pain, discomfort, and slow weight gain for baby may be making breastfeeding harder than you ever thought. Just like with natural birth, we think that nursing will be easy and intuitive but for most first-time moms (and even experienced moms), it is extremely challenging at first. If you find yourself having trouble nursing, do yourself and baby a favor. Before you give up, see a lactation consultation. In nearly all cases, she will teach you how to continue nursing (comfortably!) for as long as you and baby want. I had a lactation consultant with both of my babies and she made all of the difference!

Before we begin – free gift for you

Click here to download my free guide on the 8 Essential Breastfeeding Tools that helped me go the distance 😉

What is a lactation consultant?

A lactation consultant is a trained professional who can help women learn how to feed their babies. Hopefully, she has met the qualification for, and passed the exam given by, the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBCLE).

The term lactation consultant isn’t trademarked, meaning that anyone can use it whether they are certified by IBCLE or not. However, IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) is a registered trademark, so, only board certified lactation consultants will have the letters IBCLC following their name. And since IBCLE is an international organization, the standards and scope of practice for IBCLCs are the same worldwide.

Alternately, someone whose name is followed by CLE or CLC likely took a course that was about a week long but doesn’t have the prior knowledge, experience, or clinical hours that an IBCLC has. IBCLC’s are the gold standard for providing evidence-based lactation support for you and your baby and are especially important if you are having significant problems with milk supply or have a baby that is preterm or has medical challenges.

You may want to see an IBCLC if you are experiencing:

  • any nipple or breast pain – breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt, although a little soreness and discomfort early on may be normal
  • engorgement
  • sore nipples that are not improving
  • redness, pain or swelling in the breasts
  • anxiety about breastfeeding

Or baby is experiencing:

  • inadequate diapers
  • jaundice
  • inadequate weight gain
  • squirms, fusses or cries at breast
  • clicking sounds, hiccups or excessive spit up or vomitting
  • long feeds (45 minutes or longer) and/or frequent feeds (every hour or less) for more than just cluster feeding periods at specific times of day
  • short feeds (5 minutes or less)
  • no interest in nursing for long periods of time
  • incredibly sleepy and won’t wake for feedings or stay awake during feedings
  • trouble latching

Also, if mom feels like something just isn’t right it probably isn’t and it’s time to call the lactation consultant.

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How do I find a lactation consultant?

Since many breastfeeding issues require immediate assistance, the quickest way to find an IBCLC is to check the International Lactation Consultant Association’s website and enter your zip code to find one near you.

You can also ask your local La Leche League leader or Breastfeeding USA counselor for a list of local IBCLC’s and she may be able to give input on which lactation consultant is best for your unique situation.

IBCLCs can work in hospitals but many have private practices. A private practice Lactation Consultant is more likely to offer home visits, which is a huge relief when you are struggling to feed your baby, but are less likely to be covered by insurance.

What can you expect during your visit?

A lactation consultation includes one-on-one assessment and hands on breastfeeding instruction. The lactation consultant will assess your babies oral anatomy, looking for tongue and lip ties, which can often be a culprit and hard to diagnose by the untrained eye. She’ll also assess your baby’s general health as well as your breasts and nipples.

Your lactation consultant will also watch your baby feed to assess his latch and offer positioning assistance. You will get lots of practice latching your baby on and learn how to tell when he is really latched, drinking, and swallowing. You can even have your partner video the session on your phone so you can refer to often! Most lactation consultants will weigh your baby before and after a feed with a very sensitive scale to determine exactly how much breastmilk your baby ingested during the feeding. She will answer any questions you have and assess any specific breastfeeding concerns.

If you’ve been exclusively pumping, supplementing with donor milk or formula, or using a nipple shield, a lactation consultant can help get your baby back to breast. On the flip side, if you have a preterm or sick baby that may not be able to latch on to the breast right away, a lactation consultant can help your baby get breastmilk in ways that will help him return to the breast when he is bigger and stronger.

Here’s a video that shows exactly how a lactation or breastfeeding consultant works to help you and your baby

How much do they cost?

A consultation with an IBCLC can range in price from $200 to $350 depending where you live. Sometimes, these consults are for a designated time period but often lactation consultants will stay with you for as long as it takes to get baby hungry and nursing. The price often covers followup emails and phone calls as well. Some lactation consultants may offer packages with additional visits or lengthier phone and e-mail consultation if you and your baby are experiencing difficulties that may require long-term help.

Does insurance cover lactation consultants?

Many insurance companies are beginning to realize that breastfeeding is a public health concern and that covering an IBCLC lactation consultant visit will save on healthcare costs down the road. In fact, the Affordable Care Act requires most insurance plans to cover breast pumps, IBCLCs, and other lactation-related expenses. In practice, many mothers run into problems getting their insurance to pay for visits with lactation consultants.  To help get the cost of lactation consultant covered, consider one or a few of the following tips:

  • Look into working with companies that are liaisons between you and insurance companies. They often have services that will help you get a free breast pump and a free lactation consultant visit.
  • Try to find an IBCLC who is also an RN. Insurance companies seem to look more favorably on this credential despite the fact that IBCLCs are not required to be RNs and there are many fantastic IBCLCs who have no clinical background.
  • Get a referral from your baby’s doctor to see a lactation consultant. This can be a huge help!
  • Call your insurance company in advance to review with them the process of submitting a claim for reimbursement to confirm you’ll have the appropriate paperwork.
  • Check out the National Women’s Law Center for tips about negotiating with insurance companies and template letters to include with your claim for reimbursement of lactation-related expenses.

However, as I mentioned above, many private practice IBCLCs do not seek insurance company affiliation because it is difficult to get paid. In this case, you will have to submit to your insurance after you’ve paid for the consultation. Or, if you that’s not an option, a hospital based IBCLC may be your best bet for getting your visit covered by insurance. However, do keep in mind that many hospital IBCLC’s have to abide by specific hospital rules and regulations which may make it difficult for them to offer advice on some issues, most commonly lip and tongue tie abnormalities in babies. Likewise, it can be difficult to get a one-on-one appointment with IBCLCs affiliated with a hospital.

Overall, it’s important to look at the big picture. The cost of a consult with a lactation consultant is far less than the cost of formula and the likely increase in healthcare costs later in life, so hiring a private practice lactation consultant to work for you alone may be your best bet.

There are also many free options to explore.

  • If you give birth in a hospital or birth center, you may have access to free lactation support from an IBCLC lactation consultant. Take advantage of it even if you don’t think you have a problem. It’s always nice to hear that everything looks good!
  • La Leche League groups are a fantastic resource. LLL leaders are women who have successfully breastfed their baby for 1 year. They can help with some breastfeeding issues and let you know when it’s time to see an IBCLC. Many LLL leaders are also lactation consultants so you may get all the info you need for free. Find your local group here.
  • Breastfeeding USA is similar to La Leche League but is a newer organization so may not cover as wide of a geographic area as LLL.  Breastfeeding USA counselors offer home visits and breastfeeding support groups free of charge. Find one here.
  • Finally, you can find awesome latch and breastfeeding videos on breastfeeding advocate Dr. Jack Newman’s website.

Need breastfeeding help?

Breastfeeding Gets Easier (So Stick With It!) Cheat Sheet

How about YOU?

Did you see a lactation consultant? How did she help? Share with us in the comments below.

Genevieve Howland

About the Author

Genevieve Howland is a doula and childbirth educator. She is the bestselling author of The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth and creator of the Mama Natural Birth Course. A mother of three, graduate of the University of Colorado, and YouTuber with over 135,000,000 views, she helps mothers and moms-to-be lead healthier and more natural lives.


  1. Iam 9 th month pregnant iam in kanchipuram I need lacation consultant in our nearest area pls suggest me

  2. Hi,
    I really appreciate any advice you may have to offer me. I’m pregnant with my 2nd child and I’m terrified of the breastfeeding journey that lies ahead. I breastfed my 1st baby for 9 months. I stopped counting plugged ducts after the 25th occurrence and two instances of severe mastitis. I’m clearly prone to plugged ducts. I’m currently 16 weeks pregnant and already have a plugged duct. I didn’t even know you could get one while pregnant. My question to you is, is there any chance that my experience could be better this next go around? Or, is the statement true that if you are prone to plugged ducts, you will always be prone to plugged ducts? I can’t imagine that the anatomy of my breasts have changed much in the past two years since my first child was born. I barely produced milk at first so I did the whole breastfeed, pump, supplement with what I pumped the previous session, and so on which was a 24/7 job for the first few months, on top of dealing with the plugged ducts. I know women go through significantly worse, I just don’t know if I can mentally and emotionally handle another experience like my last. My first baby felt like a job to me, not a member of my family… it was very difficult to bond with her when my breastfeeding problems were taking over my brain for so many months. I’m a nurse and I truly believe in breastfeeding for all of the reasons why it is so healthy and important for baby. I am wondering what your experience has been with 2nd time breast feeders and plugged ducts.
    Thanks so much,

  3. Hello I was wondering if you can add the United States Lactation Consultant Association for mothers to search for an IBCLC as well. They are US based and focus more on US issues vs international like ILCA. All other resources you listed is great however USLCA is another great resources thats more applicable to the mothers in the US. Keep up the good work with all you do!!!!!

  4. This entire post absolutely ROCKS! Thank you for all the hard work you put into it. It really shows.

  5. Honestly I would be skeptical of IBCLC LactationConsultants. I would much rather get help from an LPN, or any nurse or doctor. I recently went to an IBCLC for help and paid her nearly $400 for the session. She spent the entire time trying to convince me that my son had a lip and tongue tie and needed surgery asap. She tried to get me to go to HER proffered Pediatriv Dentist and warned me to bypass my doctor because, “doctors don’t have any lactation training, but they have big egos so they will pretend to know what they’re talking about.” So many red flags were raised with her that I went to my Doctor anyway and told him the story. He was shocked. He said, not only does he have extensive knowledge of tongue and lip tie, but surely enough, my son did not have either!! He saved me hundreds of dollars and my poor son a painful and needless surgery. Friends, tongue and lip tie (frenectomy) reversal is a BIG MONEY MAKER and lactation consultants are getting kick backs for referrals. It’s unethical and disgusting. According to IBCLC’s metric, it could be argued that EVERY baby has either a tongue or lip tie (or both). Please consult your Pediatrician first if any LC tells you to get tongue or lip surgery on your little one.

    • Sounds like you had a dodgy encounter with your Lactation Consultant for sure Janelle. For what it’s worth, the vast majority of lactation consultant stories I hear are positive. And IBCLC is a reputable certification.

    • Unfortunately your LC was correct. Most nurses and peds receive little if any lactation training, and most do not know how to properly assess or revise posterior tongue ties. They are not visible and must be felt for by someone who knows what to feel for AND who is familiar with the constellation of symptoms that accompany this kind of tie. Providers who are not “preferred providers” (a name given to providers who have a demonstrated history of appropriate tie release and knowledge) may not create the appropriate shaped wound, provide the appropriate aftercare instructions, or release enough of the submucosal fibers. this is particularly important for posterior ties since the entire tie is submucosal, which is why it isn’t visible. Unfortunately I have seen far too many babies with botched tie revisions to recommend anyone other than a preferred provider. Then correctly the procedure should take minutes, involve very very minimal blood loss, require no general anesthesia or stitches, etc. Lactation Consultants do NOT get kickbacks for referrals. Most work independently from the providers doing the procedures. Ties fall on a spectrum and not all ties need to be revised because not all ties cause all problems. While it is true that everyone has a frenulum, not every frenulum causes a restriction of motion.

      my daughter had a tongue tie so severe she could not latch onto my breast at all–she would slip off after maybe a second, two if I was lucky. Two lactation consultants in the hospital and to pediatricians one of them was a self-proclaimed “expert” in ties did not identify her posterior tie. I went to a lactation consultant in private practice and she was the one who pointed it out and explain the difference between the provider who knows what they’re talking about and one who thinks they do. I went to a preferred provider for revision. Immediately after revision my baby could latch on her own. I had my second baby checked by a preferred provider for ties. She also has a posterior tie–as demonstrated by a certain restriction of motion in her tongue. While her latch is not perfect it is painless and her milk transfer is excellent. The preferred provider recommended against a tie revision even though she was technically a candidate.

  6. IBCLC’s might be the “gold standard” . But I am a LPN and certified lactation counselor in a rural area. There is ONE Ibclc in my county and she doesn’t work in private practice, as I do.. I advise moms not to overlook a CLC .. Both a CLC and an ibclc can be “worth it”. I tend to consider the individuals’ knowledge, not just a title behind their name. Food for thought..

    • Hi could you say which tea you used?

  7. I have used healthy nursing tea by secrets of tea and boosted my low breast milk production, so I think no need to go and spend money on a lactation consultant.

  8. Lots of good info here thank you. I’m wondering if you or any readers can help me out. My husband and I are considering applying to adopt a second child and would like to find out if there are any organizations that may have consultants who specialize in adoptive breastfeeding. I have read enough know it is a viable option and I would like to be prepared when/if God allows us to adopt again. Our son is two and was on half breast milk (from a very good friend) and half homemade formula for the first 15 months of life and is doing great but I did feel like we missed out on the intimate breastfeeding experience. Any advice would be appreciated.

    • Yes! I would find an a IBCLC as she should have info on this! Also, check out They have articles about adoptive breastfeeding. I had a friend who did this. She did have to take a drug to stimulate lactation but then was able to wean off it. Xo

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