Hospital budget cuts are the cause of a reduction in hours of hospital lactation consultants, and/or the elimination of their full or part time position in the maternity unit of hospitals all across the United States. Most parents assume that their will be professionals to educate and assist them with breastfeeding during their hospital stay. I encourage you to inquire with your individual hospital to see if they have a Full Time IBCLC ( International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) on staff. Find out what their typical days and hours are so that you can be prepared to request their help during your hospital stay. If there is no lactation consultant on staff, please share your thoughts and express your concern with the Director of the Maternity Unit. If they do have a lactation consultant on staff, let them know that this is an important factor for you birthing at this facility and thank them for their support.
I have found that a letter writing campaign can make a difference. After your hospital stay, be sure to make it one of the priorities in the first few months to write your hospital and let them know about your experience. Here are some points that you might want to make when you write your letter. The following is taken from the USLCA ( United States Lactation Consultants Association) website.
Ethically—“it is the right thing to do”.
Medically—research shows that appropriate support for breastfeeding and the provision of breast
milk represent the expected standard of care. Thus it is critical to have the supports necessary to
ensure that mothers and infants are successful at breastfeeding. Also, national organizations state
that it is a medical “norm” and expectation to provide consistent and comprehensive lactation
Financially—Although lactation services are rarely a money maker, there is potential to charge for
the service to offset a portion of those costs. Additionally, provision of effective inpatient lactation
care can prevent costly ED visits and readmissions due to lactation failure(s) and assist the facility
to meet national and Joint Commission guidelines and recommendations. Mothers who experience
a satisfying birth and lactation experience will be more likely to utilize the other services of the
hospital for family members needs. The presence of a center of excellence in lactation support is a
marketing advantage for a hospital.