8 Reasons why you should speak with a lactation consultant
A lactation consultant is a certified health professional with extensive expertise in breastfeeding and milk production. They are certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBCLC) Breastfeeding should be an enjoyable experience to nurture and bond with your baby. Breastfeeding is a constant learning curve that both you and your baby navigate as you both gain the skill of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding requires lots of practice and patience from both mom and baby, especially in the early postpartum period, as you both learn what works for you. Lactation consultants help with common breastfeeding issues new mothers face such as difficulties with positioning and attaching their baby; which in turn can cause your baby to nurse ineffectively at the breast causing sore nipples, engorgement, poor milk supply or discomfort.
Lactation consultants understand breastfeeding from start to finish as well as being able to identify and solve many feeding issues mothers and babies have. Many doctors, pediatricians, nurses and midwives are trained and experienced in breastfeeding practice, however lactation consultants are extensively trained in exclusively breastfeeding and can assess your baby’s oral anatomy as well as assist with latching, positioning and feeding plans. Lactation consultants also provide education and support before you have your baby, which is greatly beneficial as you will have the ability to learn the skills you need without the distraction of tiredness and your new baby.
Wondering whether a lactation consultant can help you? If any of these situations apply to you, a lactation consultant can help!
- Your nipples are sore – This is one of the most common reasons why new mummies stop breastfeeding. Initially after birth, it is normal for your nipples to be tender, particularly if you are nursing for the first time. When your baby first latches to your breast you can expect to feel a few seconds of discomfort, however if this persists or your nipples are so painful you can’t persevere with feeding your little one, you may have an attachment or latch issue. Breastfeeding is not supposed to hurt so listen to your body as it is telling you something is not quite right. If you have sore or cracked nipples, it is best to call a lactation consultant for them to assess you and your baby.
- Your baby isn’t latching or draining your milk effectively – If your baby is feeding for very short periods at the breast or is feeding for very long periods at the breast you baby may not be drinking effectively from your breast. If your breasts are engorged or painful they may not be drained adequately or fully by your baby. Plugged ducts and mastitis are common complaints when the milk is not drained from your breasts or there is a problem with milk flow. A lactation consultant is very experienced with these issues and can be extremely helpful in providing valuable information and techniques.
- You think you have a low milk supply – It is common for new mothers to worry about their milk supply and having ‘enough’ for their baby. Milk supply is increased by your body gradually through a ‘supply and demand’ system. As your baby feeds more, your body produces more milk to meet the demands of your baby. If you think your supply is low, speaking to a lactation consultant can be very beneficial as the lactation consultant can assess your baby’s feeding to ensure your baby is nursing effectively and can help you with tips to build your supply.
- Your baby isn’t gaining adequate amounts of weight – It is very common for babies to lose some of their birth weight in the first few days after birth. Doctors or midwives usually monitor your baby’s weight during the first few weeks of life and if your baby isn’t gaining weight normally they may refer you to a lactation consultant to assess your feeding techniques or milk supply. There may be underlying issues with breastfeeding that your lactation consultant can solve.
- Your baby has additional needs – Some babies have difficulties nursing or are unable to nurse due to complications such a prematurity, cleft palate or tongue tie. A lactation consultant can help you with different techniques to nurse your baby and with milk expressing techniques such as hand expressing or pumping to collect your breast milk for your baby. A hospital-grade breast pump is often best for long term pumping when your baby is unable to nurse.
- You have twins or multiples – Prenatal breastfeeding education and preparation is very important in preparation for nursing twins or multiples. Nursing twins or multiples takes added practice and patience. A lactation consultant can educate you on different holds and positions to make tandem feeding, or feeding from both breasts at once, easier.
- You have been searching the internet for tips and help with breastfeeding – Unfortunately, searching online for breastfeeding solutions can be time consuming and can lead you to a lot of conflicting information that may not be beneficial. Not all internet sources are bad, but it is important to have the best available evidence to make the best decision for you and your baby. If you have any nursing or feeding concerns, it is best to talk to a health professional. Whether you’re looking for help or reassurance, it is best to consult an experienced breastfeeding specialist – no question is ever a stupid question. Lactation consultants are here to listen and help.
- You need extra support – Perhaps you already have all the information you need but you just need someone by your side while you implement it. Lactation consultants are often nurses, midwives or moms themselves and understand what it’s like becoming a new mother. They are here to support you to meet your nursing goals and to help you have a positive feeding experience.
If you feel you could benefit from the support of a lactation consultant call us on 1-844-4686 to arrange an in-home consultation. Our lactation consultants have years of experience supporting mothers and babies and are all available to come to assess your feeding needs. They can help you achieve your breastfeeding goals in the comfort of your home, at a time that suits you. Lactation Consultants are sometimes covered by private health plans through you or your spouse’s work, which is good to explore if you feel you could benefit from the knowledge and support of one.
Lactation consultants are also widely accessible publicly and your family doctor or health provider can often refer you to one if you’d prefer a consultation provided provincially. There are many community breastfeeding groups available – check with your local hospital or family doctors for a group near you.
In the event a lactation consultant or health professional recommends you should express your milk, we also offer hospital-grade Medela Symphony breast pump rental and free delivery in Toronto and the GTA. See www.babydriver.ca for more information.