New moms need support and information when learning to breastfeed. Breastfeeding moms can get help from different types of health professionals, organizations, and members of their own families.
What health professionals help with breastfeeding?
These professionals can help with breastfeeding:
- International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs). IBCLCs are certified breastfeeding professionals with the highest level of knowledge and skill in breastfeeding support. IBCLCs help with a wide range of breastfeeding concerns. To earn the IBCLC certification, candidates must have a medical or health-related education and breastfeeding-specific education and experience. They must also pass a challenging exam. Ask your obstetrician, pediatrician, or midwife for the name of a lactation consultant who can help you. Or find an IBCLC in your area .
- CLCs (Certified Lactation Counselors) or CBEs (Certified Breastfeeding Educators). A breastfeeding counselor or educator teaches about breastfeeding and helps women with basic breastfeeding challenges and questions. These counselors and educators have special breastfeeding training, usually a one-week-long course.
- Doulas (DOO-las). A doula is professionally trained to give birthing families social and emotional support during pregnancy, labor, and birth, as well as at home during the first few days or weeks after the baby is born. Doulas who are trained in breastfeeding can help you learn to breastfeed.
What types of mother-to-mother breastfeeding support are available?
Other breastfeeding mothers can be a great source of support. Mothers can share tips and offer encouragement. You can connect with other breastfeeding mothers in many ways:
- Ask your doctor or the staff at the hospital where you delivered your baby to suggest a support group. Some pediatric practices have an IBCLC on staff who leads regular support group meetings.
- Ask your doctor or nurse for help finding a breastfeeding peer counselor. "Peer" means that the counselor has breastfed her own baby and can help other mothers breastfeed. Many state Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) programs offer peer counselors.
- Search the Internet for a breastfeeding center near you. These centers may offer support groups. Some resources include:
- Visit La Leche League International website to find a local La Leche League International support group.
- Search the Internet for breastfeeding blogs, message boards, and chats. Social media sites are very popular "gathering places" for new mothers, but do not rely on these resources for medical advice. Talk to your doctor about any medical questions you have.
What federal programs are available to help with breastfeeding?
WIC program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (commonly called WIC) offers food, nutrition counseling, and access to health services for low-income women, infants, and children.
Breastfeeding mothers supported by WIC may receive peer counselor support, an enhanced food package, breast pumps, and other supplies. Breastfeeding mothers can also participate in WIC longer than non-breastfeeding mothers. Many WIC offices have an IBCLC as well.
OWH Helpline (800-994-9662). The Office on Women's Health Helpline is staffed with breastfeeding peer counselors who can answer your breastfeeding questions in English or Spanish, support you through breastfeeding challenges, and connect you with other resources to help if needed.
The OWH Helpline is staffed Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET. The Helpline is closed on federal holidays.