May 16, 2023 • 7 min read

How Much Do Lactation Consultants Cost?

Medically Reviewed by Kim Langdon, MD on 05.31.23
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There are few things in life that compare to those first few moments after the birth of your little one. Whether you are a first-time mother or have had multiple births, breastfeeding each child is different, and questions are bound to arise.

Lactation consultants are one of the best resources a breastfeeding mother can utilize. They specialize in various areas of care for you and your baby, including, but not limited to:

  • Correct latching
  • Finding the best nursing positions for both mom and baby
  • Relief from sore and cracked nipples
  • Engorgement
  • Proper pumping methods
  • Reducing nipple pain or breast pain from breastfeeding
  • Adapting a feeding schedule tailored to your baby’s personal needs

Breastfeeding is challenging and having a lactation consultant can greatly improve your experience and overall success rate. But how much do lactation consultants cost?

Lactation consultants can cost anywhere between $0 to $300 per session depending upon who they work for, your insurance provider, etc. Thankfully, the Affordable Care Act has made it required for insurance companies to provide some relief from this expense.

This guide goes into more detail about the cost of lactation consultants, when they are covered by insurance, whether the cost is worth it, and more.

How much do lactation consultants cost?

Most insurance providers offer full coverage of an initial lactation consultant visit while you and your baby are still in the hospital. However, after this initial visit, many providers’ coverage becomes more limited.

Once you are released from the hospital, you may wish to seek advice from an in-network lactation consultant. Using a lactation consultant inside your insurance provider’s network automatically makes coverage more beneficial and can greatly reduce your out-of-pocket expenses.

Although it may cost more, using an out-of-network provider or private practice may ultimately be the better route for your personal needs. These services can range anywhere from $75 to $300 per visit. However, if this happens to be the case, don’t fret. There are ways that you may be able to receive reimbursements from your insurance provider, covering some or all of the expenses.

Talking to your insurance provider as well as your preferred lactation consultant about the fees, available coverage, and overall options for payment will give you a well-rounded understanding of what expenses you will be responsible for beforehand.

Understanding deductibles

It is also important to understand how your health insurance deductible works because your insurance will not start covering expenses until your deductible has been met. This amount is not paid to the insurance company but rather to whichever medical provider you have chosen. Once your specific deductible amount has been met, whether through one or multiple visits, your insurance will then start paying toward your medical expenses.

For instance, if your deductible is $500, you must pay at least $500 to the medical provider before your insurance provider starts covering any medical expense for you. The amount paid towards your deductible is generally reset to $0 at the beginning of each policy period and must be met each time (usually yearly) before you have access to any coverage through your insurance provider.

Are lactation consultants covered by insurance?

While breastfeeding seems simple, the reality of it is challenging and oftentimes expensive. Many women find they need additional support and guidance during this journey.

Before the Affordable Care Act (ACA), breastfeeding mothers were left with little to no coverage for lactation support or breastfeeding supplies. Because of the ACA, many working moms can now pump and/or breastfeed in various workplaces without repercussions. Insurance providers are also required to extend coverage to lactation consultations as well.

However, not all coverage is the same.

Calling your insurance provider and asking what coverages and programs they offer to breastfeeding mothers is a great place to start. Many insurance providers have even taken supporting moms a step further—offering free breast pumps and/or breastfeeding supplies as well as reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses for lactation support.

Reimbursement is a bit trickier to navigate and requires you to do some legwork, but it is worth it if you’re trying to reduce expenses. If you’re forced to use an out-of-network provider and wish to be reimbursed, you’ll have to get the necessary documentation from your lactation consultant and send it directly to your insurance provider.

In many cases, travel fees are also allocated in your return, but you will need to provide everything your insurance provider asks in order to receive reimbursement.

Knowing what to expect and having all the information is key. It may seem like a hassle at first, but gathering these facts will ultimately save you time, money, and frustration down the road. Who knows, you may even get a free breast pump from your insurance provider.

Are lactation consultants worth it?

In short, yes! Lactation consultants are worth every penny.

Although many people initially hesitate, having a lactation consultant in your corner provides you with invaluable support, guidance, and wisdom to make breastfeeding a much smoother process for both you and your baby.

Lactation consultants know how to handle the challenges of breastfeeding such as clogged milk ducts, breastfeeding with flat or inverted nipples, and what to do if your baby refuses to breastfeed. They can also teach you what to eat and drink to increase breastmilk supply.

Having a lactation consultant offers valuable benefits for babies and mothers alike. 

Benefits to Breastfeeding Mothers

  • Convenience. When breastfeeding, you don’t have to worry about remembering to pack enough formula and water to feed your little one while you’re out running errands.
  • Easy feeding at night. No more stubbing your toes and stumbling through your kitchen making a bottle while holding your crying little one.
  • Lower disease rates. Women who breastfeed have a much lower rate of getting certain cancers, developing type 2 diabetes, and having high blood pressure.
  • Weight loss. Breastfeeding makes your uterus return to normal size at a much quicker rate while simultaneously helping you get back into those pre-pregnancy jeans.

Benefits to Breastfed Babies

  • Protection against illness and disease. While breastfeeding, babies are loaded with powerful antibodies from their mothers. These antibodies help them build a strong immune system. Research has also shown that people who are breastfed have a much lower chance of becoming obese or developing asthma and type 1 diabetes. Breastfeeding also decreases the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) and helps minimize their chances of getting ear infections and stomach viruses.
  • Tailored nutrition. While breastfeeding, you are more in control of your child’s nutrition because everything stems from you and the foods you eat. This makes it easier to cater to your child’s personal nutritional needs.
  • Easier digestion. Breast milk is often much easier for infants to digest than formula which leads to fewer issues like upset stomach, constipation, and diarrhea. It may also be more beneficial to babies who struggle with gas and acid reflux.

Along with the above-mentioned benefits, research has shown that the skin-to-skin contact that a breastfed baby receives helps them regulate their heart rate and aids in overall development including the development of the baby’s brain.

How to pay for a lactation consultant

It is no secret that lactation consultants may come at a hefty price. However, having one can ultimately be the best decision you could make. They help with so many areas and can provide you with invaluable information, guidance, and overall support.

Although the financial aspect of it may seem daunting, there are numerous ways that you can pay for a lactation consultant.

1) Insurance coverage

Insurance providers will generally cover at least a portion, if not all, of your fees. Understanding what amount of coverage your insurance provider offers can save you a lot of out-of-pocket expenses. To obtain this personalized information, you must first contact your provider and ask them directly what they cover and if there are any other benefits they provide.

While some insurance companies may not cover the upfront fees, they do reimburse you if you’re forced to use an out-of-network provider. Basically, this requires your lactation consultant and your insurance provider to communicate this option with you upon your request. In many cases, this option is not guaranteed, but it is one that many mothers are entirely unaware of.

2) Using FSA/HSA accounts

An FSA, or Flexible Spending Account may be offered through your employer. It allows you to save money tax-free from your paychecks to use on health and medical expenses. These accounts can contribute up to $2,750 per individual. This money can be used to pay your deductibles and copays. It cannot, however, be used to pay an insurance premium.

An HSA, or Health Savings Account, is independently owned and allows you to save money for health and medical expenses. It can be withdrawn or used to pay healthcare expenses, like high deductibles. These accounts are generally more flexible with what you can and can’t do with the funds because you own the account. This money is not taxed and can be rolled over to the next year, growing a nice nest egg for your health expenses.

3) Personal savings or loans

You may also consider using your own personal savings to fund the expenses. Not everyone has access to cash on hand like this, so applying for a small loan is also a viable option. A personal loan may give you the option to make small payments on the balance while still having the financial freedom to obtain the services needed from a lactation consultant.

Group breastfeeding classes: a cheaper alternative?

If you simply want to learn the basics of breastfeeding, taking a breastfeeding class may be a cheaper route. These courses generally cost between $13 and $100 per course and can provide with you the basics of latching, schedules, and other common issues.

You can expect to learn a few commonly used positions for breastfeeding as well as some tips on creating a schedule, proper latching, reducing pain, increasing milk supply, and other issues that people run into while breastfeeding.

These courses are very informative and can be helpful, but if after taking these courses, you are still struggling, you may need the care of a lactation consultant. Seeing a lactation consultant can offer tailored instruction and a hands-on approach to improving your experience, as well as your child’s.

Breastfeeding can be challenging, but nothing worth the battle is ever easy. Whether you need a lactation consultant or not, breastfeeding is a journey that only you can go on with your little one.

Ashley Parkin is a mother, first and foremost, and an experienced maternal health writer. As a woman who has experienced the grief of miscarriages, helping women with similar experiences is very important to Ashley. She now has three beautiful children, but will never forget how difficult the road to motherhood has been.