To ensure a high standard of training and expertise, look for lactation consultants who have been certified by the International Board of Certified Lactation Consultants. (The letters IBCLC will appear after their name.) The IBCLC requires thousands of hours of experience and training in anatomy, physiology, sociology, psychology or counseling, child development, nutrition, and medical terminology. There are more than 8,000 certified lactation consultants in the U.S., some employed by hospitals, birthing centers, and pediatric offices, others in private practice.
Even after their breast-feeding crises are over, many mothers find it reassuring to underscore the lessons of a lactation consultant by attending a breast-feeding support group, such as those held nationally by La Leche League. "Nursing goes much more smoothly if women get the support they need," says New York City-based certified consultant Laura Best-Macia, IBCLC. "When that happens," she adds, "breast-feeding can be easily integrated into even the most complex lives."