Where to Get Support
Competent care and support can make the difference between satisfaction and frustration in your breastfeeding or chestfeeding journey. Knowing when and where to get support can boost your confidence in achieving your breastfeeding goals and help you overcome challenges with feeding and supply.
There are three types of lactation support: peer, certified and professional.
Peer support is usually free or low-cost and can come in the form of trained La Leche League leaders or WIC peer counselors. They provide breastfeeding information, encouragement, and support to those in their community.
Certified lactation support providers have titles such as Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) or Certified Breastfeeding Educator (CBE) and can be found working in private practices, hospitals, clinics and community agencies. They provide education and guidance for families on basic breastfeeding issues. To be certified, providers must pass a written exam in addition to classroom training.
Professional lactation support comes from International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC). You can find IBCLCs in private practices, clinics, and other perinatal care facilities. These professionals complete college-level coursework, hours of classroom and clinical training, and pass a written exam. They provide professional, evidence based, clinical lactation management; educate families, health professionals and others about human lactation. You can find the nearest IBCLC using this directory.
Most counties in California have a local breastfeeding coalition that provides lactation resources and support to the community. You can contact your closest coalition to find out what services are available in your area. Our list of coalitions by county will make your search easier.
The Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program recognizes and promotes breastfeeding as the natural source of nutrition and immunity from disease for infants. The program recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and offers generous support to help families achieve that goal.
If you have a child under the age of 5 and meet certain income requirements, you may qualify for WIC services. There are more than 500 service sites in California, which provide nutrition education and counseling, breastfeeding support and referrals to health-care and other community resources.
Find your local office here to see what options are available in your community. You can also visit WIC’s comprehensive breastfeeding resource site, which is available to all families — even if they aren’t program participants.
Breastfeeding USA provides evidence-based breastfeeding information and support, and promotes breastfeeding as the biological and cultural norm.
Their network of breastfeeding counselors includes experienced breastfeeding mothers accredited following completion of a comprehensive breastfeeding education program. Breastfeeding counselors provide information and support to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, in both one-on-one and group situations.
Breastfeeding USA also offers comprehensive resources to educate and support families in achieving their infant feeding goals.
La Leche League USA is committed to helping families reach their nursing goals. Leaders are trained parent volunteers who offer free information and support to help parents like you. Meetings are free to attend and open to those with breastfeeding, pumping, and human milk feeding questions or concerns. Find your nearest La Leche League meeting using the online locator map.
All babies benefit from human milk, but heteronormative perspectives can exclude members of the LGBTQ+ community from receiving timely lactation support and evidence-based education.
Members of the medical community who want to provide inclusive care to pregnant or lactating patients, should visit our resource page for health-care providers.
If you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community, the most important thing to remember is you have the same choices as anyone else when it comes to feeding your baby. Whether you choose chest/breastfeeding, seeking the help of a qualified lactation support provider is in your best interests. They can help both with feeding your baby or limiting milk production, depending on your preferences.