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How Can an IBCLC Help Your Family?

Updated: Feb 1

Julie Tower RN, BSN, IBCLC
Julie Tower RN, BSN, IBCLC

Feeding your baby is the easiest, most natural thing in the world, right? Experienced moms know this is rarely the case. For many, breastfeeding, or even bottle feeding, is a challenge. There are few things more stressful and scarier than your child not eating. An IBCLC, Internationally Board-Certified Lactation

Consultant, can help!

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Julie Tower, RN, BSN, IBCLC to talk about the importance of lactation consultation. Julie is the owner of Sweetly Nourish Lactation and Baby Care in Manchester, CT.

What Are the Benefits of Private Practice IBCLC?

Most maternity hospitals and many pediatrician’s offices have lactation consultants on staff. So, you may wonder, what is the benefit of seeing someone else? After all, you will have a lactation consultant visit you in the hospital shortly after giving birth. Why seek an IBCLC in private practice? “We have a lot more time to spend with you and your baby,” Julie says. She explains that while, yes, the hospital will have a certain amount of lactation consultants, there are also a lot of mama’s and babies in the hospital. Your time with them will be brief. You may not have enough time to cover all the questions and concerns you have. The same is true with the lactation consultant at your pediatrician’s office. Often you only have 30-45 minutes with them to discuss your concerns.

“When I come to your home, or if you come to my office, or even via Zoom, usually an initial consult is anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours,” she says, “I love to meet moms where they’re at. I like to meet them in their most comfortable setting. So, if they want me to come to their home, I’ll do that.”

What are the benefits of a more relaxed and intimate consultation? Julie says “we really go through a very thorough history of you and your baby. And we discuss everything that’s going on, not just in the moment…We have time to practice latching and do an oral assessment of the baby.”

As we all know, babies don’t always get hungry when it is convenient for us. A longer consultation allows for mom and baby to work on feeding in a more natural time frame when baby is hungry. “I always tell moms, ‘This is a marathon, we are at the starting line, we’re warming up, but it’s going to take some time,’” Julie said. The number of visits you can expect to have will vary. “There’s just so many different scenarios and it really does depend on what the complexity of that case is,” Julie explained.

Some moms are good to go with a prenatal consultation and a visit after giving birth. For others, there may be more challenges that require several visits to work on. “Whenever we are in a feeding journey where we are having a lot of challenges, we have to address specific things. We can’t tackle it all at once,” says Julie. During her visits, she works with mom and baby to address any concerns about latch and positioning. She also does weighted feeds to see how much milk the baby is taking in. Her goal is to provide moms with things to look for on her feeding journey so that she can see the progress along the way.

Why Should Mom’s Contact You Before the Baby Comes?

When most people think about breastfeeding, they think more about the baby side of the process. But really, there are many benefits to meeting with an IBCLC before the baby is born. Julie recommends anywhere in the third trimester as a great time for a prenatal lactation visit.

In a prenatal consultation, Julie talks about the benefits of

  • Breastfeeding

  • How milk production works

  • Steps you can take to ensure your bodies optimal milk production

  • How to troubleshoot issues that may come up in the hospital

  • How to survive the first few weeks of breastfeeding your baby

“Maybe breastfeeding doesn’t get off to the perfect start for you and your baby. I think for a lot of moms, or soon to be moms, they expect it to become easy and natural…So, I think that just getting that education about what’s normal [and] what’s red flags,” she explained. That knowledge will help you plan for how you will overcome any challenges you face in the hospital after delivery.

Prenatal consultation is also the time to discuss anything in your medical history that might have an impact on your ability to breastfeed. Whatever your scenario is, whether you’ve had issues breastfeeding in the past or have had any type of breast surgery, Julie says “if you do want to breastfeed…we can talk about how to make a plan for you. Because every mother’s journey with feeding is different.”

Sweetly Nourish Office
Sweetly Nourish Office

I’m Not Breastfeeding, Should I Still See an IBCLC?

If your baby eats, you will benefit from seeing an IBCLC. While many may think of lactation consultation only in terms of breastfeeding, an IBCLC can also help with issues related to pumping, bottle feeding, milk supply and any breast concerns (plugged ducts, engorgement, mastitis etc). “Even if your baby is not breastfeeding, you can still reach out to me,” says Julie. Julie has received extra training and education on oral ties (tongue tie, lip tie, buccal ties) bottle refusal, and proper flange fitting for pumping. If you are getting ready to head back to work, Julie can help you create a pumping plan. “I work a lot with mothers who are going back to work… They need a pumping plan for when they go back to work and how that is going to work out during their busy work schedule. So, we talk about their work

schedule, we create an individualized pumping plan for them.”

Whether you are pumping or using formula, sometimes a baby has issues with using a bottle. Julie relates “Sometimes a baby will begin to really have challenges with bottle feeding, or maybe they are refusing the bottle all together… And that can be really stressful, when you are going back to work and your baby is not taking a bottle.” As stressful as this situation can be, Julie assures new moms “it’s not because they are stubborn, or resisting, they’re not willfully refusing the bottle. There is probably something going on anatomically or structurally with their sucking, and we can figure out why.”

The training an IBCLC receives helps them to identify common physical issues a newborn may have, such as tongue ties, that can make it difficult for them to latch and suck properly. These anatomical issues can impact bottle feeding just as much as breast feeding. “There are definitely ways we can help you even if your baby is not actually breast feeding at the breast,” Julie says.

Is Lactation Consultation Covered by Insurance?

In many cases, lactation consultation is covered by your insurance. Julie is in network with Aetna, but she is also contracted with The Lactation Network. This third-party company works with several insurances and usually covers up to six visits. Visit Sweetly Nourish for a link to a form you can fill out to see if The Lactation Network works with your insurance plan. If your insurance does not cover lactation consultation, you can self-pay. Julie’s website lists the fees for her various services. At the end of your visit, she will give you a superbill that you can submit to your insurance company for possible reimbursement.

Get Help on Your Feeding Journey

Feeding your baby doesn’t have to be stressful. An IBCLC can help you navigate your feeding journey no matter what challenges you face. Contact Julie with to schedule a consultation.

You can watch the full interview here.

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