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Lactation Consultant: Role and When to Seek Help

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A lactation consultant is an authorized healthcare professional who specializes in educating new mothers to overcome the hurdles in breastfeeding.

Written by

Dr. Sanchana. N

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Sanap Sneha Umrao

Published At September 20, 2023
Reviewed AtJanuary 12, 2024

What Exactly Is a Lactation Consultant?

A lactation consultant is a healthcare professional in nursing. Lactation consultants have specialized training and certification in order to provide support, advice, and direction to people who choose to breastfeed. Lactation consultants can assist with nipple pain, milk supply, breastfeeding positions, and other common nursing issues.

What Are the Roles of a Lactation Consultant?

The roles of the lactation consultant are:

  • Breastfeeding advocacy.

  • Counseling the mother, father, and family on breastfeeding.

  • Collaborates with organizations, hospitals, or birthing centers to meet lactation demands.

  • Educates the importance of lactation.

  • Facilitates in reaching breastfeeding goals.

  • Promotes breastfeeding by increasing the activities and interest in breastfeeding.

  • Certified healthcare professional performing a multidisciplinary role to support breastfeeding.

When the Lactation Consultant Is Needed?

Lactation consultants are typically required in the early weeks of the baby's life while they are still learning how to breastfeed. Lactation consultants can assist anyone, including first-time parents, adoptive moms, and parents who have previously breastfed many children. One can contact a lactation consultant when they are still pregnant, soon after they give birth, perhaps several weeks into nursing.

Lactation is an individual preference; nonetheless, research suggests that difficulties such as sore nipples and milk supply have a role in a person's decision to discontinue breastfeeding. A board-certified lactation consultant is educated to work with infants and their parents to resolve feeding issues and increase a parent's chances of nursing for as long as they want.

How Can a Lactation Consultant Help the New Mother?

As Physically and emotionally demanding, breastfeeding can be challenging. Sometimes, a lactation consultant's greatest attribute is being a source of emotional support and encouragement. The first few weeks of the baby's existence are the most essential for establishing breastfeeding.

When to Schedule a Consultation With a Lactation Specialist?

In case of the following reasons, schedule an appointment with a lactation consultant:

  • Engorgement of Breast

  • Clogged ducts or breast infections like mastitis or sore nipples.

  • Fears about the milk supply.

  • Struggling with nursing positions.

  • Difficulties in latching, sucking, or with the tongue.

  • When infant is not gaining weight.

  • Either before mother goes back to work or to prepare breastmilk for bottle feeding.

How Is a Certified Lactation Consultant Obtained?

With their training in breastfeeding, the majority of nurses, midwives, and doctors can be of assistance, particularly after delivery. Some people go through training to become lactation consultants or lactation counselors. All of these people can assist you with breastfeeding, but a board-certified lactation consultant is someone who has earned a particular certification.

Lactation consultants who pass their exam and meet the stringent requirements of the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE) are certified. RLC (Registered Lactation Consultant) can be found following the name of an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). IBCLC is a healthcare professional who has experience, training, and education in evidence based breastfeeding. The preparation of IBCLC’s is monitored and governed by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners. IBLC has concluded:

  • Brief knowledge of topics like breastfeeding, anatomy, nutrition, and more.

  • One thousand hours of lactation-related clinical practice.

  • Each year, continuing education hours are accumulated.

  • Every five years, renewal is required.

What To Learn From A Lactation Consultant?

A professional and particularly trained lactation consultant can help one with any concerns or issues they might have regarding breastfeeding the child. They also ensure the resolution of the problems regarding nursing. A lactation consultant teaches mothers

  • The best way to boost or keep milk production.

  • Identifying the infant's hunger.

  • How to schedule the meals.

  • Ensuring adequate latching by the infant.

  • Treatment for breast enlargement or soreness.

  • Ideal nursing position for both the child and the mother.

  • Whether the infant is benefitting from nursing.

How to Contact a Lactation Consultant?

If individuals want to know about the lactation consultant, speak with the healthcare professional to get the consultant's contact and check with the IBLCE website. Many lactation consultants work in Hospitals, birthing centers, or pediatric centers. In a few instances, nurses will get certified by recognized institutions and have their private practices.

What Are the Doubts That Can Be Asked to a Lactation Consultant?

Take note of the doubts or questions that need to be clarified. Some doubts may be common; some are very particular, so never hesitate to ask. Here are some examples;

  • How to make the baby latch properly?

  • The best position to breastfeed.

  • How to increase the milk supply?

  • How long should I give each breast to feed?

While seeking a consultant before giving birth, then ask questions like:

  • How can one start nursing?

  • Which positions are ideal for breastfeeding?

  • Can nursing cause pain?

  • What might they anticipate during the initial days?

  • How can they identify that child is hungry?

  • How should they operate their breast pump?

  • How will they know if something is wrong?

  • Can consultant help them once baby is delivered by coming to the hospital?

  • Are consultants constantly available for inquiries?

What Could Be the Take Home Message After the Lactation Consultant Appointment?

A lactation consultant works to achieve the goals by understanding the doubts and questions. The consultant can physically examine the new mother and the infant and observe whether the baby has latched properly.

  • The consultant must visit the mother and the child within a few hours of giving birth.

  • They also pay attention to how the baby is latching the nipple and sucking.

  • Give ideas or educate about the positions for comfortable breastfeeding.

  • Educate mothers on how to use a breast pump. As many of them are unaware of the pump and storing the milk, the lactation consultant teaches them how to do it properly. Improper storage leads to the wastage of milk.

  • Also, teaches you whether the baby is getting enough milk by monitoring the count and change of wet diapers.


As breastfeeding is challenging for new mothers, employed moms' support from the lactation consultant will be helpful in pursuing a comfortable breastfeeding journey. They can support and clarify any doubts regarding unique feeding issues. Overall, lactation consultants help new mothers achieve their breastfeeding goals, promoting the health and well-being of both mothers and infants and fostering a positive breastfeeding experience for families as well.

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Dr. Sanap Sneha Umrao
Dr. Sanap Sneha Umrao

Obstetrics and Gynecology


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