Access to qualified breastfeeding support can sometimes be difficult. You have to know where to look for help and what types of help are out there.
There are many types of breastfeeding support; your health care provider (family doctor, midwife), clinics run by public health of your region, clinics that have pediatricians working with IBCLCs, support groups, clinics at the hospital and peer support. Each type of support is helpful in it’s own way. But did you know? Some IBCLC’s will come to your home and help you there! This is known as private practice.
I’m going to talk about the private practice IBCLC (because that’s what I am!). If you hire a private practice IBCLC, they will see you in your own home, develop a plan for you, send your health care provider a report(with your permission) and follow up with you on your breastfeeding journey. This investment needs to be paid out of pocket for the family. But did you know that some insurance companies will cover this service? Manulife, Sun Life, Great West Life and Green Shield are all companies that recognize the IBCLC credential. Your employer has to “opt-in” to this level of coverage, so please check with your insurance company and personal policy.
Even if you are not with the companies noted above, or you know your employer has not selected this coverage, it’s a good idea to submit the claim anyway. Why? Because the more people submitting this type of claim, the more likely they will be to enquire about the IBCLC credential.
Qualified lactation support should be available to all families that require it, however as it stands many families are not getting the care they need. Most breastfeeding parents are not reaching their goals; The Health at a Glance report for 2011-2012 from Statistics Canada indicated that 89% of mothers initiated breastfeeding; by 6 months only 26% of infants were still breastfeeding. Common reasons cited for stopping breastfeeding were “not enough milk” and “difficulty with breastfeeding technique” (Gionet, 2013). Early breastfeeding cessation is often the result of a lack of appropriate support and advice with respect to lactation.
A group of us, The Ontario Committee to Regulate Lactation Consultants (https://www.facebook.com/OCRLC/) would like to see our services covered by extended health care and the title Lactation Consultant protected. Parents often seek help of non-IBCLCs who may use the title “lactation consultant” but who do not possess the expertise and professional certification of an IBCLC. These parents may not realize that there is a very large difference in the training, skill-set, and expertise amongst the often confusing, overlapping, and unregulated use of titles carried by different lactation support personnel. When seeking support from someone calling themselves a “lactation consultant”, parents and infants deserve that this title be exclusively limited to the gold standard professional in lactation support, the IBCLC.
I ask that if you have had an IBCLC help you on your breastfeeding journey, please follow our page on Facebook and support our efforts to provide this service to all families.
Gionet, L. (2013). Breastfeeding trends in Canada. Health at a Glance. Retrieved from http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-624-x/2013001/article/11879-eng.pdf