Breastfeeding In the hospital Hot Topics The Basics of Breastfeeding

The Lactation Consultant

Who is the lactation consultant?

The lactation consultant is a specialist who works with breastfeeding mothers and babies. Lactation consultants work in a variety of settings including private practice, doctors’ offices, and the hospital.

Occasionally, lactation consultants get a bad rap for being seen as pushy or too hardcore when it comes to  breastfeeding. While hospital-based lactation consultants are often under a lot of pressure to help the hospital meet the state and national breastfeeding goals that often affect insurance reimbursement, ultimately, all lactation consultants just want to help mothers achieve their individual breastfeeding goals, whatever they may be.  

The lactation consultant in the hospital:

  • Available on-call in the hospital to answer any questions and assist with latching difficulty
  • Can help once or every feeding, depending on availability and mother’s desire
  • Assists mothers in expressing milk if necessary
  • Assists mothers in the NICU with latching
  • May help with your personal breast pump if time permits
  • Many hospitals offer lactation consultants on all shifts
  • Some hospitals offer outpatient visits with the lactation consultant after discharge
  • Some hospitals offer breastfeeding support groups run by the lactation consultants
  • Many see patients in any unit in the hospital (ie. if a mother gets readmitted)
  • Charges included in normal hospital stay
  • Outpatient visits may be billed separately

Doctor’s Office Lactation Consultant

  • Some pediatrician’s offices may have a lactation consultant or a “lactation nurse” on staff
  • May see patients one-on-one for problems
  • May see patients as part of the normal well-child visit
  • Charge may be included in the normal visit
  • May be charged separately

Private Practice Lactation Consultant

  • Most often sees mother’s in their own homes after discharge from the hospital
  • Some may have free-standing or home-based offices
  • Usually do not see mothers in the hospital
  • Most charge mothers up front and give mothers a receipt to submit for insurance reimbursement if applicable


  • Make sure to see the lactation consultant at least once each day of your stay
  • Write down your questions and make sure to get an opportunity to ask them
  • Have your breastfeeding evaluated by the lactation consultant at least once each day of your stay
  • Don’t feel guilty about calling often if you need help–that’s why the lactation consultants are there
  • Follow up with a lactation consultant after discharge to ensure breastfeeding is progressing well

Find a Lactation Consultant

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