Lactation consultant coverage should be the norm.
Infant feeding support should be widely available and fully covered by government-funded health care and employer-funded insurance plans.
We aren’t quite there, but there ARE options!
There are certainly publicly funded clinics that provide physician and IBCLC infant feeding help. The cost for visits to these clinics is covered by Alberta Health Care. Private lactation professionals, like myself, may also be an option.
Publicly-Funded Lactation Consultant Coverage
If you are in Alberta, Canada, and are wondering about your options for infant feeding support, then this post is for you! I believe that individualized infant feeding support should be widely available and fully covered by government health care and employer/private insurance. For now, the coverage can be a bit…patchy. But there ARE options!
There are several publicly-funded clinics that provide physician and lactation consultant care across Alberta (there is definitely need for more!). The cost for visits to these clinics is covered by Alberta Health Care. Some of them require a formal referral from your doctor, and some do not. Wait times vary, and I have seen them range on average from 1-6 weeks for appointments, depending on demand.
These clinics are staffed by highly trained professionals and you will receive excellent care. Since they have physicians and/or Nurse Practitioners, they are able to perform tongue tie revisions, order lab work, and provide prescriptions.
Why choose Private Lactation Consultant Coverage?
Private lactation professionals, like myself, may also be an option. While there is an up-front cost, you may be able to offset it if you have a health spending account or additional employer-covered health insurance.
Some plans offer coverage for Registered Nurse Home Care (some companies are starting to offer coverage for lactation care, if your LC is not an RN, but it is still a rarity at this time).
Since every insurance company has different policies, and every plan has different coverage, I always recommend that you contact them first to confirm what they cover for Registered Nurse home care services, and what is required in order to submit a successful claim. For example, some plans require a doctor’s prescription for RN home care.
Wait times for private practice IBCLCs can be a major advantage. Most LCs can see you within 24h-72h of you contacting us. If you are struggling at home, it can be a huge relief when someone can come right away, and we will always do our best to accommodate you asap! The flexibility in our schedules and lower volume of clients allows us to do this.
The biggest perk that private lactation consultants offer (in my opinion) is in-home services. Meaning: WE COME TO YOU! No need to pack up and travel to yet another doctor’s visit.
Those of us who offer home visits will come to your home with a full kit of everything we may need. From a full medical-grade baby scale, to teaching tools, to bottles, nipple shields, you name it. Home visits are 1-2h in duration, and you get the most individualized care and follow-up.
I (and many other private LCs) provide very personalized follow-up. After my visit with you, I will send you a detailed written assessment and care plan, including applicable strategies, videos, links, articles, referrals and recommendations. I also offer unlimited text and email support for the duration of your infant feeding journey (yes, you can text me even 6 or more months after our visit!). It’s like having a lactation consultant in your pocket for those quick questions or rough days.
***KEEP IN MIND: if you or your baby requires additional services like prescriptions or a tongue-tie revision, we will still have to get you referred to a physician. However, we will provide strategies and education to support you through possible long waiting periods.
There are definitely some hoops to jump through when seeking infant feeding help. We will reach a day when lactation consultant coverage becomes the norm. For now, there ARE options!
For information on my specific services and costs, please visit My Services
For information on public and private infant feeding services in the Edmonton-area, please visit www.edmontonbreastfeeding.com
See my interview with Edmonton chiropractor, Dr. Wendy Coburn of One Village Chiropractic. We discuss how lactation consultants can help, what we can do, and talk all about public and private access to lactation care!
Dr. Wendy Coburn interview