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Implement Medicare rebates for Lactation Consultants (IBCLC’s)

This petition had 5,417 supporters


Please Implement Medicare rebates for Lactation Consultants (IBCLC’s)

Currently Medicare rebates are not payable for services provided by International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC’s) unless the IBCLC is also an Eligible Midwife (a midwife with additional registration standards). IBCLC’s are not necessarily midwives, but are valuable members of the health care team who have specialist knowledge relating to breastfeeding. This is their primary focus. Mothers and health professionals refer to IBCLC’s when skilled assistance is needed. Doctors, midwives and child health nurses have varying levels of breastfeeding education and are often limited in helping mothers with complex breastfeeding issues.

IBCLC's:

  • are health professionals
  • hold an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) qualification
  • work in hospitals and child health services, or in private practice.

An IBCLC will undertake a comprehensive breastfeeding assessment (often spending 90 minutes or more) with the mother and baby including:

  • watching a complete breastfeed - offering help with positioning if necessary
  • an assessment of the mother’s breasts and nipples, including baby’s behaviour at the breast
  • assessing milk transfer
  • taking a detailed birth, breastfeeding and medical history
  • working with the mother to find a plan that works for her
  • helping to track baby’s weight
  • a suck assessment - checking baby’s oral anatomy for tongue tie, high palate etc
  • help with expressing ie checking if a breast pump is suitable
  • education regarding lactation aids
  • evidence based information / education to empower the mother

The Government promotes breastfeeding as a key strategy in preventative health care. The National Health Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the WHO (World Health Organisation) recommend exclusively breastfeeding for around 6 months. While most mothers initiate breastfeeding (96%), by one month only 56% are breastfeeding and 39% at three months. These poor continuation rates indicate a problem with ongoing support.

Most early breastfeeding problems are easily overcome with the right support and the right information. Barriers to breastfeeding include the fact that mothers are often discharged home early from the hospital before the milk comes in around day three; they may have had a caesarean section and are unable to drive and thus access support; they may not be able to get an appointment for breastfeeding support in a timely manner suffering painful nipples, often dreading the next breastfeed. Access to hospital based IBCLC’s and community IBCLC’s is limited or inconsistent. Private IBCLC's are available for home visits at around $80 per hour. Low income and disadvantaged families are particularly affected as they are unable to afford this option. These mothers are less likely to meet their breastfeeding goals compared to those with a higher income who can afford private rates.

IBCLC’s have an important role to play in increasing breastfeeding rates. A Medicare rebate for lBCLC's will:

  • Ensure breastfeeding support services are affordable and accessible to all mothers.
  • Result in individualised care for mothers and babies.
  • Improve petitions.committee.reps@aph.gov.aurates resulting in happier, healthier mothers and babies.
  • Enhance preventative health care.

This issue was raised in a 2007 Parliamentary Inquiry Into Breastfeeding and has resulted in no action :Mothers deserve better!



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