Helping Babies Before They Are Born:
A new local lactation practice offers prenatal consults

How it works

If you’re pregnant or already parenting, you might be familiar with the concept of a lactation consultant, a type of health care provider who helps babies with breastfeeding.

In years past, most new mothers didn’t meet a lactation consultant- or perhaps even learn much about
breastfeeding – until after their baby was born. “Families received the message ‘breastfeeding is
natural’ and therefore thought they would just figure it all out on their own”, says Ashley Fore, a Crozet-based lactation consultant with Flow Lactation. The lactation practice, which opened in 2022, is changing the way local families approach breastfeeding. Flow Lactation offers in-home and virtual appointments, with an emphasis on prenatal consults and preventing
problems before they begin.

“It never hurts to get guidance in learning a new skill like latching a
baby, especially if you’ve never seen anyone do this before, and especially if you need to get
this right from the start” says Ashley.

And research supports this too. According to data from the CDC’s Breastfeeding Report Card,
about 83% of babies born in Virginia in 2019 started out receiving breastmilk, but by 3 months
old only about 39% of those babies were still receiving just breastmilk. “It’s clear that most
mothers in Virginia want their baby to get breastmilk from birth, but something is happening
between birth and 3 months old where our system is failing these families. Mothers are not
being given the tools they really need, and we can do better by them. Not being able to reach
your feeding goals can greatly increase the risk of postpartum depression and anxiety, so it’s
about more than just milk” says Ashley. “It’s about the baby’s health, but also about the
mother’s physical and mental wellbeing, and about the family overall. This impacts everyone”.

Flow Lactation makes prenatal lactation consults convenient and easy, with weekend and
virtual options. Best of all, these appointments are usually covered by insurance. The
Affordable Care Act mandated coverage for lactation support. Flow Lactation is in-network with
Aetna insurance, meaning they bill the insurance company directly. If you don’t have aetna, you
send a superbill to your insurance company after your appointment to request reimbursement.

Prior to opening Flow Lactation, Ashley worked with Lou Lamb at Breastfeeding Blues & Bliss.
Ashley started out as a registered nurse (RN) in labor & delivery after attending UVA’s School of
Nursing. She then became an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), which
is the highest certification in breastfeeding expertise, in 2015. “As a labor & delivery nurse, I
saw first-hand how exhausted and overwhelmed mothers can be in the first few days after baby
is born. “Those first days postpartum are meant for rest and bonding with the baby. It can be an
overwhelming time to absorb new information. I want moms to feel prepared and empowered
before that first contraction, ready to reach their feeding goals no matter what they are.
Prenatal consults are a fantastic way to get to know my clients and to set them up for success”
she said.

Flow Lactation offers in-home consults for Crozet and Charlottesville families, and virtual care
too. They also rent baby scales, a convenient service which includes doorstep delivery and pickup. On April 14 they are collaborating with local doula service Milk & Cradle to host The Big
Latch On of Central Virginia
at Pen Park, and in May they are partnering with Bluebird & Co to
hold a Motherhood Mini Photo Session in May, benefitting Stepping Stone. “Albemarle County
is a wonderful place to have a family, and we want breastfeeding families to know they are
supported here, from pregnancy through weaning.”

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