Supporing your Entire Breastfeeding Journey
Need breastfeeding support or education? Are you exclusively pumping? Do you need help with feeding a combination of breastmilk and infant formula? What about bottle feeding? Need help with weaning and introducing solid foods?
With decades of experience, our team of IBCLC® Lactation Consultants provides expert, compassionate, and non-judgmental support for all infant feeding concerns.
We have offices in Houston, Kingwood, Conroe, Cypress and Pearland,. We offer home visits throughout greater Houston (including The Woodlands, Tomball, Katy, Sugar Land, League City and surrounding areas). And we offer virtual teleheath visits world wide. So no matter where you are -- we can help!
We understand that our clients are concerned about the current outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19). As a practice, we are actively monitoring the situation and wanted to let you know what we are doing to ensure everyone's safety.
For in-person visits, we are following the recent CDC coronavirus guidelines regarding the COVID-19 virus. We are also offering clients the option to book a virtual consultation.
If you have an upcoming in-person appointment, we are implementing a COVID-19 screening process. You will be contacted before your appointment to screen for factors that increase the risk of being a COVID-19 carrier. Based on the results, you may be asked to reschedule your appointment or to have a virtual consultation.
We follow the same screening guidelines for our Lactation Consultants as we do for our clients. If a consultant or a member of their family has had exposure to COVID-19, we have implemented a 14-day quarantine policy. During the 14-day quarantine, the IBCLC will not be allowed to see clients.
We have a thorough screening for all clients and staff. Here are the questions we will ask in our screening:
- Have you or your family traveled in the past two weeks?
- Have you or your family had a cough, fever, or has been ill within 48 hours of your scheduled appointment?
- Have you or your family has had close contact with a person who is under investigation for 2019- COVID-19 infection (Coronavirus) in the past 14 days.
- Have you and your family been social distancing in the past 2 weeks
- Have you or your family have attended any events with more than 10 people, and if you will be asked if you wore a mask during the event.
- You will be asked to list everyone who will be present for the consultation
- On the day of your visit, we will contact you and ask you to take your temperature to screen for fever.
If the screening results determine that you cannot have an in-person visit, you will be given the option to schedule a virtual consultation, or you can reschedule your visit. No cancellation fees will be charged if the appointment is rescheduled due to the screening results.
During our appointments, we follow the recommended guidelines from the World Health Organization.
- We clean and sanitize all our equipment before and after every visit.
- We always wash our hands before and after every visit and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer during the visit.
- We always wear a mask during the entire visit and wear gloves whenever touching you or your baby.
- We limit close contact as much as possible during the visit.
- We only allow the breastfeeding parent, infant(s), and one support person in the visit.
- We require any adults present to wear a mask unless they have tested negative for COVID-19.
- If you have a home visit scheduled, please make sure to have hand soap and paper towels available for your IBCLC to use during the visit.
We offer Virtual Consultations through our HIPAA compliant secure telehealth video platform SpruceHealth.</a href>
If you would like to have your consultation via video conferencing, let us know!
Current recommendations for breastfeeding parents
Breastfeeding is recommended for all babies, regardless of the parent's COVID-19 status. COVID-19 antibodies have been discovered in breastmilk. And we know that breastmilk gives infants the highest level of protection against respiratory illness.
If you are COVID-19 positive and wish to breastfeed your baby, you should use precautionary measures (wash hands, wear a mask, cough into your elbow, etc.) when breastfeeding, but you may still breastfeed directly.
Resources for breastfeeding parents
Below are links to trusted resources for more information about COVID-19 and breastfeeding.
Frequently Asked Questions
We know it can be confusing for new parents, since there are so many different people offering to help with breastfeeding. And even if parents are looking at credentials to figure out who has the skills needed to help their situation, there are just too many different certifications. (Breastfeeding Educators, Certified Lactation Counselors (CLC), WIC Peer Counselors, La Leche League Leaders, Breastfeeding USA Counselors, Breastfeeding Specialists, Registered Nurses, Newborn Care Specialists, Postpartum Doulas and on and on....)
Those of us in the lactation world call this the "alphabet soup" of lactation credentials.
What is an IBCLC®?
IBCLC's (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant®.) are healthcare workers who have extensive education and experience supporting breastfeeding families.
What does an IBCLC do?
An IBCLC provides skilled lactation management for everything from general lactation education and basic latch issues to more complicated lactation problems, such as tongue-tie or weight gain problems.
How are IBCLCs different from everyone else providing breastfeeding support?
A lot of these breastfeeding helpers have some lactation training, and may have even been required to take a exam showing basic breastfeeding knowledge. The difference is the level of education, training, and the hundreds of hours of hands on clinical experience required before you can even be be approved to take the IBCLC exam. Additionally, the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBCLE)® ensures that the IBCLC exam is comprehensive. The IBCLC is considered to be the Gold Standard of lactation knowledge.
How do you become an IBCLC?
In order to become an IBCLC, you must complete a specific college curriculum of Health Science Education, you must complete at least 90 hours of lactation specific education, and complete between 300 - 1000 hours of hands on clinical hours. There are three pathways that candidates can use to achieve the IBCLC.
IBCLC’s are required to re-certify with continuing education and clinical hours or by exam every five years to demonstrate current knowledge.
Before their first visit, clients often ask how seeing a private practice IBCLC is different than seeing the LC in the hospital. But by the end of the first visit, everyone always says that they had no idea how different this experience really is. Here are some of the reasons why the support you get in the hospital just can’t compare to a private practice visit.
Time is limited.
In the hospital environment, the lactation specialist, nurse, or IBCLC has a set amount of patients to see during each shift and can’t spend a lot of time with anyone. They usually are expected to see at least 12-15 or more new mothers each shift, and patients will often see a different person for lactation support each day!
While the IBCLCs in the hospital work very hard, being a hospital-based IBCLC is very difficult – we know, because we’ve been there. They have a lot of information to teach in a short amount of time, and parents often get different and sometimes conflicting information from every IBCLC, nurse, or doctor they see.
Most patients are exhausted from their birth and often on medications that make it even more difficult to absorb what everyone is telling them. In our private practice, we spend time with you and your family to develop a relationship that spans your breastfeeding journey.
Our initial visit lasts 2-3 hours, and follow up appointments are generally 1-2 hours long. We know that this is a long time out of a new parent’s day, but it is vital to do a full assessment of both the parent and baby and understand each unique situation to create a care plan specific to that parent and their baby.
Assessment is difficult in the early days
Another problem is that many hospitals do not allow their IBCLCs to do a full assessment of the baby, so often, issues like lip and tongue ties are missed. Most patients are in the hospital for only one or two nights, well before their milk is in, and milk supply can be adequately assessed.
Most problems don't show up until you are home.
Most breastfeeding problems don’t show up until the mother’s milk comes in, usually on day 3-5 postpartum, and parents are left with limited resources to help with these breastfeeding problems.
So why choose our practice?
Our practice has multiple IBCLCs with advanced training in many complex issues. This allows us to not only cover a large geographical area but also to help match patients with the best IBCLC for their specific situation. In complex cases, we refer and cross-consult within our practice, so you always get the best information and guidance possible.
Our practice provides support for new parents throughout their breastfeeding journey, beginning in the prenatal period, in the hospital, continuing after returning home, and through weaning and we believe in walking beside you to support the full lifespan of your breastfeeding relationship.
Parents are often amazed at the wide range of things that we can help with. It is not just about breastfeeding! Hopefully this list will help give you a better idea.
- Preparing for a successful breastfeeding experience
- Basic breastfeeding education
- Choosing a breast pump
- Prenatal nutrition for optimal breastfeeding
- Induced lactation, co-nursing, adoptive nursing, breastfeeding without birthing
- Assessing breastfeeding difficulties from a prior breastfeeding experience
- Assessing for risk factors for breastfeeding problems (milk supply, infant issues, etc.)
- How to know if breastfeeding is going well
- What to do when your baby is cluster feeding
- Making latching or positioning more comfortable for the breastfeeding parent
- Making sure your baby is getting enough breast milk
- How to establish and increase your milk supply
- What to do if you make too much breast milk for your baby
- Breastfeeding a premature baby (preemie) or a baby in NICU
- Establishing a good milk supply when breastfeeding or exclusively pumping
- Understanding infant sleep and feeding patterns
- Correcting a painful breastfeeding latch
- Preventing and treating breast pain and sore nipples
- Preventing and treating mastitis and plugged ducts
- Thrush and other nipple or breast infections
- How to stop using a nipple shield
- How to nurse twins or other multiples
- Knowing how medications interact with breastfeeding
- Planning for returning to work
- What to do when your baby refuses to breastfeed (nursing strikes)
- What to do when your baby starts teething
- What to eat when breastfeeding (breastfeeding diet)
- Losing weight and exercising while breastfeeding)
- Questions about drinking alcohol and breastfeeding.
- How to bottle feed
- What if baby is refusing the bottle
- Which bottle is best for your baby
- What do you do if your baby chokes or coughs while bottle feeding
- How much milk should your baby be drinking by bottle
- How to store breast milk safely
- How to properly prepare baby formula
- Bottle feeding at daycare or by another caregiver
- How to help a baby with a milk allergy or other allergies and sensitivities
- What to do if your baby has acid reflux or colic symptoms
- How and when to do tummy time
- How to prevent a flat head and what to do about it(plagiocephaly)
- When and how to use your breast pump
- Exclusively pumping
- Selecting the correct breast pump flange size
- Power pumping and other strategies to increase milk supply
- What to do if pumping is painful
- Do you need a freezer stash, and if so, how to manage it
- Assessing and managing ties
- Recovering from infant frenectomy, frenotomy, and frenulectomy procedures
- Rehabilitating oral function for the breastfeeding infant
- How and when to introduce solids (baby-led weaning)
- What to do if you become pregnant while breastfeeding
- Tandem nursing (multiples, or nursing a baby and a toddler)
- Breastfeeding beyond the first year
- How to stop breastfeeding and wean
What do you do in a lactation visit?
The answer to this question is really a lot more than you probably think!
Most visits consist of the following:
- Birthing / Breastfeeding parent health history review
- Baby(s) health history review
- Breast exam/assessment
- Infant exam/assessment (including oral assessment)
- Feeding observation and assessment (weighted feed and/or observation of bottle feeding)
- Breast pump observation and assessment
- Education on relevant topics
- Creation of a personalized care plan
- Creation of report for physician(s)
How much time will my lactation specialist spend with me?
In a typical initial consultation with us, you will spend 2-3 hours with your IBCLC, and 1-2 hours in a typical follow up visit. And even before your first visit, we have you fill out detailed intake forms, so that we can review them before your visit.
Why is the visit so long?
A visit with us will be different than any other health-related visit you have ever experienced. Our visits are time intensive, multi-dimensional and comprehensive. Often feeding issues are multi-factorial -- in other words -- there are multiple things impacting the feeding. In lactation, we are the only medical providers who have two patients and we treat the parent and baby together.
What does a visit cover
If you want to know the nitty gritty of what we look at and might discuss during a visit, check out the lists below:
Health History for Birthing / Breastfeeding Parent
- Medical history prior to pregnancy
- Family medical history
- Previous breastfeeding experiences
- Previous pregnancy or birth experiences
- Preconception nutrition
- Preconception medications and supplements
- Preconception mental health
- Underlying health issues that may impact breastfeeding
- Prenatal medical history (current and any previous)
- Prenatal nutrition
- Prenatal medications and supplements
- Prenatal mental health and prenatal mood disorders
- Birth plan (in prenatal appointments)
- Postnatal nutrition
- Medications and breastfeeding
- Current Social support
- Maternity leave / returning to work plans
Health History for Baby(s)
- Birth History
- Medical History (diagnosed conditions, treatments, medications, surgeries
- Growth history (weight, height, head circumference)
- Feeding history
Exams/Assessment for Birthing / Breastfeeding parent
- Systems review (review of all symptoms)
- Mental health/mood disorder screening
- Assessment of current emotional and physical state
- Breast assessment and exam
- Bra fit assessment
- Milk supply assessment
Exams/Assessment for Baby
- Assessment of current emotional and physical state
- Oral assessment
- Current weight and weight gain
- Breastfeeding assessment (weighted feed)
- Bottle feeding assessment
Common visit topics
- Parent’s feeding goals and goals for visit
- Breast massage and hand expression
- Breast pumps (selection, instruction, and flange fitting)
- Proper storage of expressed milk
- Nipple and breast care (prevention of pain, infection, healing and treatments)
- Improving latch and positioning
- Infant feeding (frequency, patterns, length of feedings, what is normal)
- Infant issues that can impact feeding (oral anatomy, tongue tie, lip tie, torticollis, plagiocephaly, laryngomalacia, reflux, etc.)
- Infant gas, colic and reflux
- Infant sleep
- Infant growth
- Maternal issues that can impact feeding (breast anatomy, underlying health issues, nutrition, etc.)
- Milk supply (increasing, decreasing, maintaining)
- Bottle Feeding
- Inducing lactation
- Nipple shields
- Infant formula and donor milk
- At breast supplementers (SNS, Lact-Aid etc.)
- Nutrition and breastfeeding
- Alcohol and breastfeeding
- Medications and breastfeeding
Choosing what type of visit to have
We offer 3 ways you can have a lactation consultation. If you live in the greater Houston area, you can choose to have an IBCLC come to your home. We also have 5 convenient office locations throughout Houston (Greenway Plaza, Kingwood, Conroe, Cypress and Pearland). Or, you can even choose to visit with us virtually through our HIPAA compliant telehealth system, Spruce Health. So, what is the difference between each type of visit, and how do you choose which one is best for you?
In Home Visits
Having a lactation consultant visit you in your home is a wonderful choice. You get the benefit of having assistance in your normal environment and you don't have to brave Houston traffic. We can also work on positions that are difficult to do in an office environment, such as side-laying in bed while feeding. Home visits are an ideal choice for breastfeeding parents who may not yet have been cleared to drive, or parents with multiples (twins or triplets). Your IBCLC will bring a scale to weigh your baby at the visit and to do a weighted feed if appropriate.
Insurance coverage for home visits
Many of the insurance plans we take will cover the visit fee for a home visit; however, some Aetna plans do not cover this service. Additionally, some Aetna plans will apply a deductible, copay or coinsurance on home visits. If this happens, we are required to charge you these fees. Please check with your plan on coverage.
Travel charges for home visits
We charge a $60 trip/convenience fee for home visits to cover the travel time and cost and because we typically are not able to see as many clients in a day when doing in-home visits.
COVID-19 Screening for home visits
We require COVID-19 screening for all home visits, and will ask that you take your temperature prior to your IBCLC's arrival. Your IBCLC will remove their shoes and wear a mask prior to entering your home. The visit is limited to the breastfeeding parent, baby(s) and one additional caregiver.
Seeing your IBCLC in one of our conveniently located offices is a great choice. Because we are able to see more clients in a day when doing office visits, sometimes these visits are available sooner than a home visit. Even if you choose to have your initial visit in your home, we can often do follow up visits in one of our office locations. With office visits, there is no additional travel fee.
What to bring to an office visit
When being seen in one of our offices, we ask that you bring anything you are using when feeding your baby with you to your visit. We may also ask you to bring your breast pump to your visit. If you are using powered formula, please bring water with you to your visit.
COVID-19 screening for office visits
We require COVID-19 screening for in office visits, and will ask that you take your temperature prior to your arrival at our office. We do not use a waiting room at any of our office locations. If you are scheduled for an office visit, you will be asked to text us when you arrive, and your IBCLC will notify you when you can come directly into the office. We sanitize the office locations between scheduled clients. The visit is limited to the breastfeeding parent, baby(s) and one additional caregiver.
You might be surprised at what we can accomplish during a virtual visit! These visits are perfect for clients who are not located in Houston, for those who choose to not be seen in person, or for those clients who do not pass our COVID-19 screening. While the actual "visit" time is usually about an hour, we do ask you to provide a lot of information, pictures and videos prior to the visit for us to review ahead of time. This helps ensure we make the best use of our time together.
Insurance Coverage For Lactation Services
The good news is that for many clients, insurance will often pay for all or a portion of the visit fees. We are currently able to accept selected plans from the following insurance providers:
- We are in network with most Aetna plans, except for the Memorial Hermann ACO and KelseyCare. Some Aetna plans charge a copay/coinsurance or deductible for services.
BlueCross Blue Shield, Cigna and United Healthcare ∗
- ∗ Accepted through our partnership with The Lactation Network
What if you don't accept my insurance?
When we can't accept your insurance, we do require clients to pay for the services when rendered, but we provide a timely payment discount for these clients. Payment must be made within 1 business day. We can also provide a super-bill for you to file with your insurance company.
The Affordable Care Act requires that most health insurance plans, except self-funded and grandfathered plans, provide access to trained lactation support at no cost to the mother. So even if we don't accept your insurance, you may still be able to get your insurance company to reimburse you for your lactation visit.
What if I want to pay for a visit for someone else?
You can choose to purchase a gift card in any denomination for a lactation visit through Square.
What forms of payment do you take?
You will be required to give us a valid credit card number after scheduling your first visit with us. Our normal process is to charge the credit card you provided for your visit on the first business day after your visit. Delay in payment for a visit may result in forfeiture of the timely payment discount.
Using a FSA or HSA to pay for services
Clients who have an FSA (flexible spending account) or HSA (healthcare spending account) may use these funds to pay for their lactation visits.
Using an FSA or HSA does not prevent you from filing for reimbursement with your insurance company; however, if the insurer does reimburse you for the services, you may have to redeposit the funds in your account. We recommend that you discuss this with your accountant for specific advice.