Breastfeeding Support from a Lactation Consultant
Breastfeeding is full of challenges, and without a firm mindset that you are going to breastfeed your baby, it’s easy to just give up early on. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), less than 40% of babies under 6 months old are exclusively breastfed. Breastfeeding is full of health benefits for babies as well as mothers, and can help to create a special bond. But who can you turn to if you and your baby want/need help with breastfeeding? It can be frustrating, after all. This is where a lactation consultant steps in.
What does a lactation consultant do?
A lactation consultant is a healthcare professional trained to help with and promote breastfeeding and pumping. She is a resource who can offer support and aid you in accomplishing your breastfeeding goals. When you meet with a lactation consultant, it will be a private one-on-one meeting. The lactation consultant may also observe you feeding your baby so that she can offer some advice on latch, position, or breastfeeding in general.
What can a lactation consultant help me with?
If you have difficulty with plugged ducts, mastitis, getting your baby to latch on, or even low milk production, a lactation consultant can advise on how to best resolve the problem. Often, she will be able to talk you through a solution over the phone. A lactation consultant can show you how to properly use a breast pump, how to store and handle breast milk, and discuss a plan to help you grow more comfortable in breastfeeding your baby. Even if you aren’t having any physical problems breastfeeding, having emotional support and praise for your efforts can bolster your confidence and be invaluable.
Where can I find a lactation consultant?
Many hospitals and birthing centers will have trained lactation consultants (sometimes called breastfeeding counselors) in house who have experience helping new mothers breastfeed successfully. If you and your baby are at home and looking for help, try to find a board-certified lactation consultant. Distinguished by IBCLC, board-certified lactation consultants undergo testing and training to assist mothers with even the most complicated breastfeeding problems. IBCLC’s must keep their knowledge current with continuing education and re-certification.
Are there any other breastfeeding resources?
- La Leche League (LLL) is an organization that offers community support groups for breastfeeding mothers, as well as help over the phone.
- The Office of Women’s Health in the United States offers a helpline and can be reached at 800-994-9662.
- The federal WIC program (Women, Infants, Children) often have IBCLC’s on staff in your local office.
- Try talking with other mothers who have experience breastfeeding babies. You may find that you aren’t alone in experiencing breastfeeding struggles!
It takes work to develop a good breastfeeding routine. Some women have the perception that because breastfeeding is a natural way to feed a newborn baby, it should come naturally for the both of you. That is not always the case. Breastfeeding can be overwhelming for some new mothers. However, with support and helpful information (and having the right expectations going into breastfeeding), almost any mother can breastfeed successfully.
Do you have any breastfeeding stories or advice to share? Comment below!