The Lactation Consultant is Coming! How do I Prepare?

Getting some reassurance from an IBCLC

You have just had a baby. You’ve always known you would breastfeed, but things are not going well. Perhaps your nipples are sore. Or you’re struggling with engorgement. Maybe you’re worried about milk supply. Or your baby has hard time latching. Or maybe you just have a lot of questions. In any case, you and your healthcare provider have decided you need the help of an expert. It’s time to call a lactation consultant.

You’re happy to hear that the lactation consultant (IBCLC) your doctor recommends will come to your home to help you. You make an appointment with the consultant, and then you wonder….”What should I do in preparation for her visit?”

Before we talk about what you can do in advance of the visit, here’s what I do NOT want you to do: Clean your house, put on nice clothes or make a batch of cookies! Now for how to prepare:

This may seem obvious, but in order to help you, I must be able to see your baby breastfeed! (Yes, there have been times when I have arrived to help a mom and baby is blissed out with a full tummy!) I usually recommend that my client plan a feeding time close to the middle of my visit. That way, if baby wants to eat earlier or later than expected, there is still plenty of time to work around it. On the other hand, please do not pump immediately before my arrival.

If you want to rent or purchase a breast pump or other products,  let the IBCLC know in advance so she will have the items with her and she can schedule extra time if necessary.

If you have been partially bottle feeding or using some formula, record the amounts the baby has been taking for 24 hours or so before the visit. It’s really helpful to know the daily tallies of formula and/or pumped milk–especially if you are concerned about inadequate milk production.

Think about where you want the consultation to take place. If you usually nurse in bed, for instance, that is where I will help you. Most lactation consultants have no problem climbing on the bed with you to give you the help you need.

Be aware that the IBCLC may suggest a different chair or a different configuration of pillows. This doesn’t mean that you have been doing something “wrong;” it simply means she wants you to be comfortable.

It’s a good idea to arrange for a helper to entertain your older children and your pets. You will want to concentrate on the task at hand without distractions. I love animals, but if your pets are climbing all over me, I can’t give my full attention to you and your baby.

Make a list of questions. At the end of the consultation, look over your list to make sure your questions have been answered. Remember that you can always call or email as other questions come up.

If you have been using a breast pump, make sure it’s handy and the kit is clean and ready to go.

Do you want your partner to participate? What about your mother or other helpers? Whatever you want is fine with me!

Your lactation consultant will ask you about your baby’s weight history. Have his birthweight and any subsequent weights handy.

If you can’t be home for the scheduled visit, try to give the IBCLC at least 24 hours notice.

Keep in mind that your lactation consultant is traveling to see you and is also traveling to see other clients. Be respectful of her time and realize that she may be a few minutes early or late to your appointment.

Locate your insurance information, checkbook or credit card ahead of time.

And finally, if you do absolutely nothing to prepare for the home visit, it will be just fine. Those of us who routinely do home visits are a very flexible bunch. We can go with the flow. All you really need to do is be there, with a baby who will be willing to eat during the visit!

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