Breastfeeding, like most new endeavors in parenthood, isn't without its challenges. Even parents who don't experience significant difficulties with breastfeeding often find that it's not exactly what they had expected, or more time involved than they had imagined.
When questions, problems, difficulties, or fear crop up during breastfeeding, it's critical to be able to talk with and/or be examined by a breastfeeding expert. Today, on IBCLC Day, we celebrate the great work lactation consultants do for families, by sharing with you important information that can help you on your breastfeeding journey.
Why Would You Call a Lactation Consultant?
The following list describes common reasons why parents refer to a lactation consultant, but it is not an exhaustive list -- you can call a lactation consultant anytime you experience breastfeeding issues or questions.
- If your nipples are sore
- If your baby seems to have difficulty latching
- If you're unsure baby is getting enough to eat
- If your supply seems low
- If baby isn't gaining weight properly
- If you need assistance with pumping, returning to work, feeding twins, multiples, or a preemie, transitioning to solids, weaning
When Should You Call a Lactation Consultant
Ideally, you should have the name and number of a recommended lactation consultant prior to giving birth. You won't need a prenatal appointment, but having the name of someone before birth will come in handy when you're in the trenches of learning to breastfeed. If after birth you experience issues with breastfeeding, it's best to reach out right away. Problems with breastfeeding do not fall into the "wait it out" category. Even if your questions or issues can easily be addressed by phone, it's still worth reaching out to a professional lactation consultant.
What Should You Look for in a Lactation Consultant
The lactation consultant you hire to support you should have certifying credentials. Look for IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) after their name or in their bio. The International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners requires 1,000 hours of clinical experience and maintains high education standards.
What to Expect from a Visit with a Lactation Consultant
During an initial visit with a lactation consultant, it helps to have a support person with you to be an extra set of eyes and ears to recall information later on. Ideally, your appointment will be scheduled at a time when you know baby will be ready or willing to eat so the consultant can observe breastfeeding. Appointments may vary with each lactation consultant, but in general, there is the initial information intake, assessment and weighing of baby, observation of breastfeeding, breastfeeding adjustments and recommendations, and finally, creating a collaborative plan for after she leaves, as well as scheduling a time to follow up.
How to Find a Lactation Consultant Near Your
Find an IBCLC lactation consultant near you by searching the International Lactation Consultant Association's directory. You can also get referrals from your doula, childbirth educator, hospital, friends, or family.
Breastfeeding can be tremendously rewarding -- for parent and child! It can also pose many challenges, which is why it's great to know that there are trained support persons available to help. Don't hesitate to call a lactation consultant!