What You'll Learn
Professional consultants offer a broad range of services, which include everything from teaching a new mom how to position her baby on the breast to giving her tips on how to increase her milk supply or handle a breast infection. They can also devise special feeding strategies for preemies, multiples, or infants with serious medical conditions such as heart disorder or cleft palate. (These babies especially need the extra nutrition and nurturing that breast-feeding provides.) And even months into breast-feeding, moms who want help finding a good pump or figuring out the nursing implications of starting their babies on solid foods can benefit from hiring a pro.
Sometimes the most valuable commodity a lactation consultant offers is simple reassurance -- either affirmation that you're not a failure as a mother if you're struggling or concrete proof that breast-feeding is indeed working well. At each visit, for example, Henson's consultant weighed Daniel before and after he completed a feeding to make sure he was getting enough milk.
Typically, a consultant's fees range from $50 to $100 per hour, depending on location. Some hospitals offer free lactation services. Often one visit is sufficient, with follow-up by phone. Some insurance companies will reimburse new moms for these services, but there are no guarantees. Nor will all flexible-spending health-care accounts accept the charge.