Four Effective Types of Lactation Support Near You: Find the Best Option for Your Needs

Lactation counselor using prop breast

When it comes to lactation support, finding the right type of care can make all the difference. There are four main types of lactation support available, and each one has its own benefits and considerations. Here's a breakdown of each option:

  1. Health center lactation support: Many healthcare facilities offer lactation support services, often led by certified lactation consultants. These services may be covered by insurance or offered on a sliding scale. Health center lactation support can be particularly helpful for those who are experiencing challenges with breastfeeding and need more hands-on assistance. Downsides for care like this? Waking your baby up and commuting to the visit, forcing a feed when the timing may not be right, being out of your normal feeding environment, and (in my experience) in-clinic LCs tend to be the most “handsy,” which some find uncomfortable and all find hard to replicate (because you’re not going to have a third hand at home).
  2. In-home lactation support: In my opinion, this is the ideal (and this is where I’m happiest as a lactation counselor). Some lactation consultants offer in-home visits, where they can provide personalized guidance and support in the comfort of your own home. This option can be especially convenient for those who have mobility challenges, transportation barriers, or simply prefer the privacy of their own space. The trouble here is finding a qualified individual who is willing to travel to your home (so often discovered only through-the-grapevine, which is something Nessle is working to correct!) Other downsides: these experts are less likely to be in-network for your insurance, they may be costlier, and they still may not be able to arrange an appointment time specifically around your baby’s feeding schedule.
  3. Online lactation support: Virtual lactation support has become increasingly popular in recent years, offering a convenient and accessible option for those who cannot or prefer not to leave their homes. With online consults, you can connect with a lactation consultant via video or phone call, receiving personalized support and guidance from the comfort of your own home. This type of support can be challenging when issues are latch-related, because it can be difficult for the LC to get a good view of your latch and body positioning from a smartphone camera, but there are many upsides, such as increased access, accessibility, and (often) affordability, as well as the opportunity to “go niche” with a consultant who specializes in the precise type of care you’re seeking, such as tandem-feeding, creating a pumping schedule for an RN returning to 12-hour workdays, or feeding a baby with Down syndrome.
  4. Group lactation support: Where available, support groups offer a welcoming and encouraging environment for new parents to connect with others who are going through similar experiences. Lactation support groups are often led by trained lactation consultants who can answer questions and provide guidance. Pro’s for groups like these: they are often free or low-cost, they offer an opportunity to connect with other parents, and a “peer-pressure” type of setting can at times encourage a baby who has been struggling–for example, I always recommend group sessions for clients who are undergoing a nursing strike situation! These groups can be particularly helpful for those who are seeking emotional support and a sense of community. Look for options available through La Leche League, Baby Cafe, your local hospital or doula group, or on Nessle.

No matter what type of lactation support you choose, it's important to do your research and find a provider who is a good fit for your unique needs and preferences. By seeking out lactation support, you can increase your chances of a successful breastfeeding experience and feel more confident and supported as a new parent.

Carly B

Carly B

Carly is a postpartum doula and Certified Lactation Consultant (CLC) based in the West End of Richmond, Virginia.