How to Find a Qualified Home Visit Lactation Consultant

Picture this: you and your exhausted partner just came home from the birth center with your new baby. Breastfeeding was going fine, or maybe not so fine, at the hospital and now you are home facing your first night home with your little one. Feeds are challenging to say the least. Baby is either asleep at your breast, seeming to not actually be feeding during the hour or so your sore nipples are able to tolerate him being there OR he screams like a starving banshee when not at the breast. Your partner is looking at you with fear in their eyes and a look of “What have we done?” You are too tired to go anywhere, your post-partum body yearning to just stay home after your tenure at the hospital and the chaos of discharge day. The thought of a lactation consultant coming right to your home seems like manna from heaven. You know you need help with breastfeeding related concerns and jump to the web for resources. But how do you find this visiting angel?

We receive calls from families every day seeking a home visit lactation consultant in the Boston area and we happily point them toward the home visit service they are looking for. We are lucky to have access to many, highly qualified and compassionate home visit lactation consultants and their contact information is just a click away. A quick Google search using the key word phrase “Boston home visit lactation consultant” quickly brings up 166,000 results! Zoinks! That’s a lot to sift through when you would happily settle for the top 3!

So how can a sleep-deprived breastfeeding family winnow the field of 1000s of potential candidates? You can easily narrow the field of choices by defining your search area and utilizing the databases of Zipmilk and Yelp to quickly locate a quality home visit lactation consultant near you.

Zipmilk.org, if you are not familiar, is a website managed by the Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting and protecting breastfeeding within the commonwealth. The website houses a database, searchable by zip code, super convenient when shopping for a home visit lactation consultant. Massachusetts residents can go here: http://www.zipmilk.org/and enter their town’s zip code to yield a page like this (please click on the images to enlarge them in a popup window):
Zipmilk home page

Even if you aren’t a resident of Massachusetts, you may have good luck with Zipmilk as many other states, including our neighbor to the North, New Hampshire, have Zipmilk pages available. Enter your zip code in the field provide and click on the red “Find Providers” to get this….
Zipmilk search Burlington NH

Now you have a listing, broken down by service providers, of all of your local breastfeeding professionals and volunteers. How cool is that?!
You can see that there are lots of options, even within the Zipmilk listing. From here, to find a home visit LC I suggest clicking on the first option,     IBCLCs (6), for the 6 IBCLCs in the local area. IBCLCs, or International Board Certified Lactation Consultants, have the highest level of accreditation within the field of lactation. IBCLCs need at least 2400 clinical counselor hours in order to sit for the certification exam. Compare this to “Breastfeeding Counselors and Educators”, who commonly carry the credential: “CLC” or Certified Lactation Counselor, a credential awarded after just 40 classroom hours. By choosing an IBCLC vs. a Breastfeeding Counselor, you are selecting someone with much more training and expertise. So, if we click on IBCLCs, we get a screen like this:
Zipmilk results

Now you have the bios of the IBCLCs in your area and can quickly scroll through to find a board certified lactation consultant that provides home visit services in your area. Included in the biographies is information such as: contact information, practice setting, description of services offered, et cetera. Sifting through 20 listings is way more helpful than the 166,000 hits obtained through Google.

To narrow the list even further, I would suggest cross referencing the listings in Zipmilk with a good local service reviewer site such as Yelp.com. As with any online reviews; I would toss out any outliers, or obvious spam reviews, and, instead, look for recent reviews posted by verified customers and clients. It is easy to use Yelp in this regard, which allows you to search for service providers by city/location. So for example, from the Yelp home page enter “lactation consultant” in or around “Newton” to yield this ( Yelp search ):
Yelp search lactation consultant

You can then, at a glance, see who the highly rated providers are in your area, view a Google map of their locations and click through to read the posted reviews.
Finding a quality home visit lactation consultant is easy once you know how and where to look on the web. Zipmilk.org and Yelp.com are two great searchable databases that complement each other nicely, allowing breastfeeding families to find the help they need quickly, often, right in their own back yard.