Lactation Visits FAQ
I’m not sure if I need a lactation visit or a doula visit; can you tell me the difference?
Postpartum doula care includes lactation support, so you will always get help and support with your goals for breastfeeding on both day and night doula care. However our doula service has a 3 to 4 hour minimum on day visits (depending on the doula) so the main purpose of the lactation specific visit is to provide last minute support to help when things are challenging. These are only 2 hour visits and can be scheduled last-minute as opposed to doula visits which are generally scheduled a week in advance.
Are your doulas and educators “Lactavists”?
We get this question a lot (although perhaps with different wording). The question is really about how much pressure moms will get about breastfeeding. We know in the NW we live in a culture rich with breastfeeding resources, which sometimes come with guilt if things aren’t going well. Our goal is not to push anything, as no one but YOU knows how you want to approach breastfeeding. We are here to help you overcome whatever challenge is in the way of your personal goals. Doulas are never here to make parenting decisions for you; we get that opportunity with our own kids. We respect whatever feeding decisions you will make for your baby, and will offer you many options to help make it work in your practical life. We are not opposed to using formula (although we might cringe at their marketing tactics) and we know there are many ways of feeding babies. We trust you and will always check with you about what sounds best to you regarding your baby.
Are the doulas doing the visits Lactation Consultants/IBCLCs?
No, the doulas are lactation educators with years of experience helping breastfeeding mothers as both educators and doulas. They have up to date knowledge and skills to support families, but they do not provide clinical services such as weighing, charting, or providing products such as nipple shields or SNS. Referrals are made to appropriate practitioners after our visits, whether to a specific IBCLC with a specialty for your unique need, or back to your own provider for further examination or diagnosis.
Owner Kimberly is an IBCLC, so if she is available and can see you then we are happy to arrange that. However she has very limited availability, so we lean on her to help triage things over the phone and to make appropriate referrals to many of her awesome colleagues.
As lactation educators, we can review updated information on pumping, milk storage, paced bottle feeding, going back to work, increasing or decreasing milk supply, and guidelines for normal breastfeeding strategies.
As doulas we can teach you how to nurse in bed safely and comfortably. We can explore different feeding positions in the comfort of your home, experimenting with your own tools, and on your more relaxed schedule. We have the time to move gently through new information, as there are many questions that come up when you are breastfeeding a new baby.
Can the lactation visit be scheduled just for getting my baby to take a bottle?
Yes, many families call for this need. If things are going well for you except for the bottle transition, we can set up a lactation visit for helping baby to take the bottle. (We have a good success rate but it’s not 100%.) As doulas we are here to help you with your goals, and bottles can be a successful addition to a breastfeeding pair (and necessary for most moms going back to their jobs). We can teach all the members of your family how to "pace feed" as well, which can help babies who are breastfeed transition back and forth from breast to bottle. This technique has some nuance to it, so having an in-person visit can make a big impact, especially for family members who have fed babies other ways in the past.
If you can’t help me, who can?
There are so many wonderful Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) in the Portland and Vancouver area. We know most of them, and can recommend them based on their specialty, their approach, or the location they serve. Having relationships with these wonderful IBCLCs means we can not only refer you, but we can contact them and tell them a bit about your situation, so you have some continuity of care and a personal connection. We can even attend your lactation visits if you prefer to have our support there for follow up.
Is the lactation visit covered by insurance?
At this time only IBCLCs can bill insurance, or receive partial insurance reimbursement. We hope that will change to allow for lactation educators and for postpartum doulas eventually too. For now we address this concern by making the lactation visits about half the cost of an IBCLC home visit.
We are just one piece in the support puzzle. If you have more questions, call Kimberly at 503-752-1691 and she can see if a lactation visit is right for you.