Interview – Lactation consultant (Rachel)May 2016

One professional, one path, many tips


What is the role of a lactation consultant?

The role of a lactation consultant is to protect, promote and support breastfeeding, as well as to educate families and workplaces on the health benefits offered by breastfeeding to a child.


Why use the services offered by a lactation consultant?

Is all the information on breastfeeding found on the Internet not enough?

Generally, moms who contact us need more information to resolve their breastfeeding problems. The consultant, with her presence, her desire to understand the situation and her assistance, will help the mother to regain confidence in her ability to solve the nursing problem.


At what point should mothers get in touch with a lactation consultant?

As soon as she begins to experience a problem for which she can’t find a solution using her own knowledge.

It is important not to wait for the problem to worsen.


In what specific cases is the intervention of a lactation consultant needed?

It is very common that we are contacted regarding critical issues such as:

Chapped or cracked nipples, which hinder breastfeeding because of the intense pain that discourages mothers and often leads them to give up breastfeeding.

- We also observe breastfeeding difficulties that arise early on and are due to a tongue or upper lip frenulum that impedes feeding and causes injuries to the nipples.

Once this problem has been detected, the lactation consultant will refer the mother to a dentist or a breastfeeding clinic so that a surgical procedure can be performed to allow the return to a satisfying breastfeeding experience.

This procedure will also insure the healthy short-term development of the child's teeth and help avoid language problems in the future.


What is a typical counseling session like?

The session essentially includes opening a file and gathering data:

- Examination of the mother's breasts,

- Physical examination of the baby, especially his or her mouth,

- Observation of a complete feed with adjustments to the latch and the mother's breastfeeding position if necessary.


Depending on the issues observed, we can refer the mother to other health professionals (dentist, osteopath, pediatrician, chiropractor, physiotherapist, doctor).

In addition, different breastfeeding positions can be suggested to the mother as well as manual expression of her milk.

During the consultation session, it is also very important to assess whether or not there are related problems such as:

- Does the spouse disagree with breastfeeding?

- Is the mother under pressure from her family to give her baby formula milk?

- Does she have the necessary support from her family and friends?


This psychological assessment is essential and sometimes allows us to identify some more anxious people who need extra help or who are suffering from postpartum depression.


What is the recommended follow-up like after the counseling session?

Two to three days after the consultation session, a follow-up phone conversation to check whether the advice given has improved or solved the breastfeeding problems previously exposed is made.


What are the advantages of home care service?

We have a team of 26 lactation consultants in Montréal. Some offer their services in predetermined places, others agree to do home visits at the request of mothers because they appreciate not having to travel with their baby.


How to choose a lactation consultant that is familiar with the problem?

Thanks to their training, lactation consultants can address any type of problem. The list of consultants in Québec is available at: For all of Canada:


In Canada, do the RAMQ and other equivalent programs cover the costs of the services offered by a lactation consultant?

No. The RAMQ and other equivalent programs do not cover this type of service. Nevertheless, some private insurers agree to cover the fees of the consultant. A consultation session for one to two hours costs around $80 to $120.


What are the other sources of information on breastfeeding in Canada?

In Quebec, a practical guide called From Tiny Tot to Toddler is given to all expectant parents during one of the pregnancy follow-up appointments. The chapter dedicated to breastfeeding is of outstanding quality.

If you lose your copy of this guide, you can order one for $22.95 at

Breastfeeding group sessions are organized by most CLSCs in Quebec.

- Associations or organizations such as La Leche League and Nourri-Source (in Quebec) offer telephone support from a volunteer mom called a breastfeeding godmother to accompany young mothers who have just started nursing.


What is the required training to provide a consulting service in lactation?

To get the certification and have the right to offer this type of service, you must:

- Have acquired valuable experience (supporting evidence required) in breastfeeding (more than 1,000 hours in the last five years).

- Have received specific breastfeeding training.

- Pass the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners exam which completes the process to obtain the certification (it has to be taken every 10 years) and pass the international certification to practice (to be renewed every 5 years).

- Maintain your knowledge up to date in attending conferences and consultants meetings, and in reading articles related to breastfeeding.


All persons acting as lactation consultants must meet the standards of practice and follow the IBCLC code of ethics. The IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) designation certifies that the lactation consultant is qualified to provide breastfeeding related information and guidance to the public.

AQC (Association québécoise des consultantes en lactation diplômées de l’IBCLC) website:

ACCL (Canadian Lactation Consultant Association) website:


How did you decide to become a lactation consultant?

I became aware very early on of the importance of breastfeeding, first as a mom who breastfed her children, then as a nurse, having the knowledge of all the benefits of breastfeeding for the mother and the child. I always thought it was the most natural way to feed a child. Once I retired, I decided to become a lactation consultant to continue to promote breastfeeding and to become involved. Helping mothers to continue breastfeeding by encouraging them and accompanying them brings me great satisfaction.

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