Lactation Consultant—Taking a closer look into this high-demand field
Typically the number one job of a lactation consultant is to promote breastfeeding and help women with breastfeeding questions and concerns. Lactation consultants who work at hospitals may have the dual roles of having “nurse duties” for part of the day and spending the other part of their day going to each room in the delivery unit to see if new moms have questions or concerns with breastfeeding. Typically hospital lactation consultants are available to be called upon once the new mother and baby are discharged from the hospital, with further breastfeeding questions. Sometimes there may be an additional fee for assisting after discharge and other times this is a complimentary service. Lactation consultants can be called upon for everything from questions about basic positioning, assisting moms breastfeed babies with congenital defects, such as cleft lip or palate.
What different settings are lactation consultants employed in?
There are a number of different settings lactation consultants may practice in. The most common place is in the labor and delivery unit of a hospital. Oftentimes these hospital lactation consultants also teach breastfeeding classes to new and soon-to-be moms at the hospital. In addition to hospitals, lactation consultants may also work in a medical practice such as a pediatrician’s office or an obstetrics/gynecology office. Learn more about lactation consultant training.
Lactation consultants may also go into private practice, which is appealing to many since they’re able to be their own boss, create their own hours, and even work out of their own home. These professionals typically offer home or office visits. If a breastfeeding mother wants the convenience of having a consultant come to her home, private practice consultants are able to.
The Women, Infants and Children organization, commonly referred to as WIC, is another place consultants may be employed. This organization provides funds for low income women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding, as well as to infants through age five. Nutrition education is one of the main objectives of this organization. WIC provides breastfeeding peer counselors to help moms with breastfeeding. They are supervised by registered lactation consultants, who assist as needed. Learn more about lactation consultant certification.
Additionally, a lactation consultant can work as a researcher at a college or university, contributing to the information regarding lactation and how different disorders and such can affect a woman’s ability to produce enough milk. They may also continue to research the benefits breast milk has on an infant’s development.
Lastly, lactation consultants pursue employment in retail; either working at a breastfeeding store or working for an organization that sells breast pumps to hospitals and rental facilities. Or, the lactation consultant could even open their own breastfeeding supply store.