So you are at that point where you know you need some in person breastfeeding help and have checked out the websites of some IBCLCs in your area. Although you would prefer a home visit, it seems pricey. And just a few miles away your local hospital is offering FREE lactation consults in their outpatient center. This is a no brainer, right? Go to the free clinic. I mean it’s FREE…
Do you know what the differences are between what private practice IBCLC can offer compared to a hospital-based clinic visit? Before you decide there are some facts you may want to consider.
Most private practice IBCLCs primarily offer home visits. So this is an obvious difference. But what’s the big deal about that? Is it worth the $$$ you might need to initially put out to be seen in your home? Well… it kind of is a big deal. Having a home visit means that not only will you not have to take your baby out to a busy clinic, but your lactation consultant gets to observe you in your natural habitat. Your home is where you spend most of your time nursing your baby, with all your breastfeeding paraphernalia that you may be using. You know….all that stuff that you are not going to lug to an outpatient center. Figuring out proper positioning and where to put your arms, hands, legs, pillows, etc. to get that perfect comfortable latch on your very own couch, fancy new glider, or your mom’s old refinished rocking chair. This is something that cannot be replicated in an office chair in an exam room. Sure you can learn some great tips and tricks in the clinic setting that you will find useful when you get home, but it’s not the same. There are some things best learned in the environment where you will be feeding your baby most often.
We tend to see most of our clients in their homes for the initial visit and try to schedule follow ups in our cozy offices in Newtown, Pennsylvania as well as Toms River, New Jersey. Because we have less of a time constraint on our consults, we may have the opportunity to observe you in more than one of your nursing nests during your initial visit. The way you will need to position yourself and your baby in a rocking chair is going to be very different from how you may want to position yourself in the comfort of your bed. Should you choose to share sleep with your baby, which is kind of inevitable when you are breastfeeding, we can take a look at where everyone is sleeping and if you wish, we can assist you to make sure everything is safe for both you and baby. We can also advise you how to change things up if it is not, while giving you tips on how to safely and comfortably nurse in laid back and side lying positions. It is unlikely an IBCLC working in a hospital-based clinic would be able to offer advice about safe positioning in a bed or co-sleeping due to hospital protocols regarding the ‘back to sleep’ campaign, which advises against these biologically normal practices.
But…. That’s not the whole enchilada. Here’s the really big difference, and it has to do with the consistency of care after your fabulous home visit is over.
We have been in your home, seen you in your adorable jammies… maybe even met several members of your family, your older children, and your pets! Your family is now a part of our little lactation community. We can’t count the number of times we have changed a diaper, held a baby while a mother ran to the bathroom, prepared a snack for a hungry toddler, or listened to a grandmother recount the birth of one of our clients. We work very closely with the families we serve. Once your visit concludes, we provide basic follow up phone and text support for up to two weeks after your visit. Whenever you call or text you will get the SAME consultant, every time (unless one of us is hospitalized or on vacation). You get our PERSONAL CELL PHONE NUMBERS. No need to go over your entire history or recount your birth story with each phone call or at each follow up appointment. AND WE CAN TEXT. When you have small children, texting can be a lifeline. If this is your first baby you will soon find out, parents don’t always have the time or quiet space to sit down for a phone call. When you call the hospital warm line hoping to speak with the consultant you saw, you may get a voice mail or a random consultant on the line that knows nothing about your situation. We will remember you, your baby, and all those little but important details. A team of consultants in a hospital outpatient setting cannot offer this high touch assistance because regardless of clinical skill, there simply is not the opportunity for that level of intimacy between client and consultant.
We are open 7 days a week and offer evening hours. And in most cases one of us can see you within 24-48 hours of our first contact. Lets say you want your partner to accompany you to your appointment but they have just returned to work after some time off for the birth of your baby. The local clinic closes before they will even walk in the door. No worries. We can see you in the comfort of your own home long after they are closed. That witching hour? We’ve got you covered. In need of an emergency consult on a weekend? Clinic closed? Pediatrician’s office closed? Chances are, we can accommodate you. And in several cases have helped families avoid unnecessary trips to the ER with non-emergency situations.
Speaking of the witching hour… we are MOMS! We totally GET it. We both have very young children. We are in the thick of it and can completely relate to where you are at. Full disclosure…we are folding laundry at 10 pm watching This Is Us, and getting up with our own kids too. We are not afraid of diaper pics after hours. If we are tied up with our families, out on the rare date night, or by some miracle if we are sleeping we will get back to you first thing in the morning. Most often than not we are available throughout the day and into the early evening for simple questions. And we can’t make any promises but if we are up and unoccupied we will probably text you back even if it’s late. When needed, we can also email you our handouts on various breastfeeding issues from our phones, no matter where we are. No links to kellymom.com. These are our protocols that we spend time researching and updating regularly with the latest evidence-based information. Not to mention we are local moms too, and have the scoop on all the best pediatricians, parent and baby yoga, play gyms, breastfeeding friendly restaurants, support groups, and where to find the cutest baby clothes. We even have a relationships with our local health food stores & buybuy BABY which now stock the galactagogues, nipple creams, and herbal remedies we recommend. No waiting for an Amazon shipment when you need something right away.
We also have great relationships with many of the local pediatricians and have excellent working relationships with the other providers we sometimes need to refer clients out to. We communicate with your baby’s pediatrician directly and when necessary, your OB/Midwife about your case after each and every consult. If we need to refer you to another healthcare provider we communicate with that provider personally to ensure they are well informed about what is going on with you and your baby. No notes to bring along with you that you can only hope that they would read during your appointment. If we refer you to someone, they will know the details of your medical history and of our findings before you walk through the door. As private practice IBCLCs We make decisions on which providers to refer to based on skill and client satisfaction. If your situation is one that requires a referral to another health care provider, we don’t have to refer exclusively to certain practices just because they are affiliated with the hospital we work for, and there are no higher ups to tell us we cannot refer to a specific provider because they don’t 'believe in' a particular modality. Your local hospital lactation consultant is constrained by red tape that would never allow for the exchange of information and resources we are able to offer our clientele.
And guess what? Lucky Baby is also currently in network with Aetna, Amerihealth NJ, and most Blue Cross Blue Shied plans. So, if you have any of these as your insurance carrier we bill your insurance directly. There is no cost to you. Nothing to do besides filling out our insurance form. No co-pay, nothing applied to your deductible. Wait…what? Yep. You CAN get a home visit with us for free! For our clients with all other health plans (and we are busting our butts to get in-network with the biggies), we encourage you to call and get pre-approval for a lactation visit with us! Most insurance companies will pre-approve at least two visits with an out of network provider if they have no one to refer you to that is in-network within a 25 mile radius of your home. At the end of your consult you would need to pay us in full. We then file the insurance claim on your behalf for reimbursement. According to the Affordable Care Act of 2012, lactation support falls under preventative care services and MUST be covered at 100%. Most of our clients get full reimbursement within 30 days of their visit. If you hit a roadblock or the claim gets denied we are well versed in the games insurance companies play with regard to lactation care and are here to help you with getting the reimbursement you are entitled to, under the law.
For us, helping you meet YOUR goals is our main priority. Our business depends on word of mouth referrals. If you are not happy, we are not happy. When you fill out that client satisfaction survey, we are reading it and applying your recommendations to change the way we practice for the better. Though we both have hospital experience and are qualified to work in hospital-based clinics, we have made the conscious decision to work in private practice. We feel that when it comes to a choice between hospital-based outpatient lactation care and the highly personalized services we provide, there is no comparison. If you would like to chat with us about what we can do for your family don’t hesitate to contact us. We can’t wait to meet you!