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How can a Lactation Consultant Help You?

Updated: May 15

As a Postpartum Doula, the other perinatal professionals that I tend to refer the most to and work the most closely with are our amazing local IBCLCs. They offer a wealth of knowledge about challenges and victories for feeding babies and have amazing resources at their fingertips. Susan Forrester at Farmington’s Forrester Lactation along with her associate Lauren Akers work closely with many of my clients, so I thought why not start there! Enjoy this interview as Susan answers some commonly asked questions about how an IBCLC can support you.

Tell me a little about yourself! What brought you into this line of work?

S: Originally from Los Angeles, I moved to NYC to get my PhD in Chinese politics. My dissertation was on the abduction and sale of girls and women into prostitution and marriage and while interesting, I really wanted to start my family and the completion of my dissertation was happily thwarted by the birth of my first baby, Teddy, in 1998. About a year later, when I realized I was never going to finish and my husband encouraged me to make a list of everything I was drawn to. It was a short list consisting of: babies, birth and breastfeeding. Since I had been attending La Leche League meetings per the suggestion of my wonderful Bradley instructor, I decided to become a lactation consultant by first becoming a LLL Leader. I loved what LLL stood for, the friendships, the connections it made and that’s where I first learned the importance of accepting different parenting styles and the focus on good reflective listening skills. When we moved up to West Hartford, I started a group here and eventually held several administrative posts. I still value the friendships I made and the skills I acquired. During this time, I gave birth to my daughter Julia and then while 9 months pregnant with my son Daniel, I sat for the IBCLC boards in 2002. After a couple of years, I started seeing a few clients here and there, still focusing on my young family. As my kids grew, so too did my business.

When should you first contact a lactation consultant?

S: A family should contact an IBCLC when they are pregnant! There is nothing like good education before giving birth. Parents somehow believe they will learn how to breastfeed their baby in the hospital. Trust me, that is the worst possible time to learn something this important. You are sore, exhausted and overwhelmed. While a prenatal breastfeeding consult won’t necessarily prevent all problems, it’s a terrific way to help you establish your milk supply from day one and possibly prevent too much weight loss in your baby. Additionally, it helps family families understand what the yellow flags are to watch for before they become red flags. Finally, it gives families a chance to meet me so that they know who to call if any problems arise. However, if a family hasn’t done a prenatal breastfeeding consult or class, they should come in if they are experiencing sore or damaged nipples, unresolving engorgement, low milk production, slow weight gain, trouble latching or suspected tongue tie.

Fortunately, the majority of our families can get coverage through a couple of ways, so I think it’s great to come in soon after the baby is born just to see how things are going, answer questions that all new families have and prevent small problems from turning into bigger problems. And the longer a family waits to get help, the longer it usually takes to solve those problem.

If you have access to a lactation consultant in the hospital, why would it still be beneficial for a mother to contact you?

S: Lactation consultants in the hospital are worked so hard and given a long list of patients to see each day. As a result, they have only about 15 mins to spend per family. Their intentions are good, but there is no way they can provide the time needed to sit and go over all the questions a family will have about how to feed their new baby. Furthermore, your brain, after delivering a baby, is not in learning mode, so much of what they might say, will not likely sink in. What we do in my practice (along with my terrific associate Lauren Akers, who has been with me for about 3 years now), is spend about 1.5-2 hours with a family during the initial consult. We take a thorough history, listen to the birth story, observe breastfeeding, do a weighted feed, help with alternative feeding methods if needed (bottle, nipple shields, etc.), examine the baby thoroughly (oral assessment and how the baby is moving) and come up with a care plan — all keeping with the individual feeding goals of that family.

What does a visit with you look like? Is it in home or in office?

S: We provide three types of consults: in-office, at-home and telehealth. Personally, I think in-person is the best because it is so much nicer to share the physical space with a family and be able to provide hands-on guidance. It is also more difficult to do a physical exam via Zoom. We love doing prenatals when we can be relaxed and go into a lot of detail without the distraction of a hungry baby present. Our prenatals are very in-depth and last 90 mins or more sometimes. Prenatals can be easily done via telehealth if preferred.

What are some common concerns that would cause someone to need a visit with you, and is it covered by insurance?

S: As I mentioned, we love working with newborn babies, but of course, we see babies throughout their first year. We also do weaning consults, bottle refusal consults and returning to work consults. Tongue tie is a common cause of breastfeeding issues. We are well-trained to do a thorough assessment and make recommendations for how to best manage. We prefer to see families before they go off to do the procedure as there are typically important issues to attend to before the oral tethering is released.

The great thing about working with Lauren in my new, larger office, is that we can see so many more families sooner. We always prioritize newborns, but most families can be seen within a short period of time.

As for coverage, I wish all insurance carriers adhered to the Affordable Care Act’s stipulation that all families be entitled to lactation coverage with no cost sharing. But as we all know, they don’t like to pay for things. Fortunately, we are in-network with most Aetna plans ,and many other plans are covered through The Lactation Network. It’s super easy to find out if your plan is covered by going to the link on my website and filling out a simple form. Booking an appointment with us is equally simple and can be done at anytime of day or night in less than 5 minutes! Sometimes one visit is all that’s needed but if there are issues, a family should expect to see us multiple times. Most problems can’t be solved in one visit. We recognize that everyone (especially baby) moves at their own pace and each family has their own feeding goals, which we respect and honor.

If you have one piece of advice for a parent who is considering breastfeeding, what would it be

S: Advice to new families: do a prenatal consult and don’t wait to get help if there are any issues regarding feeding, weight gain and/or milk production.

To book a visit with Susan or Lauren simply visit their website


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