Breast is best! That’s what we all hear during and after pregnancy, right? And we all want to do the right thing, to give our babies the best possible start in life. Which means breastfeeding.
But what if you can’t?
What if your milk doesn’t drop or the baby just won’t latch on properly or what if it just hurts?
And then you just feel like a big (and swollen) sack of failure. So now you are sitting there alternately sobbing and cussing, with boobs that hurt and a baby who won’t nurse, wondering what the F#*% you are going to do.
One solution? Call in one of those superhero miracle workers: a lactation consultant.
Lactation consultants aren’t for everyone, but for many moms they feel like a little slice of divine intervention.
Sooo, what do these people do exactly?
Primarily, they provide education and support to breastfeeding moms. Education, you say? It’s true. Those parenting classes you took before birth don’t always give you the total picture. The nurse in the hospital might be great, but when you go home, the environment changes and so might the breastfeeding.
During the first visit, your lactation consultant will quiz you to death, but she’s getting a solid picture of everything that’s going on -- why you might be having trouble, what it is about your baby that might be causing the problem. She may also observe you nursing, to see your technique and how you handle your babe. Don’t worry -- this isn’t a test and she isn’t judging you. She’s simply seeing what’s happening now, so that she can identify any issues and help you solve them.
Once she’s consulted with you, she will work with you to formulate a plan of care. She may work with you on new ways to hold your baby while feeding -- perhaps you need the support of a Boppy or sling. She’ll show you how to keep your baby awake if he keeps dozing off while nursing. Those sore or inverted nipples? She can show you how to treat and avoid them, as well as teaching you ways to avoid mastitis. And if your stubborn little mule just plain refuses to eat, she can help with that, too.
When you are ready to wean from the breast, you can call on your consultant again. She’ll help you wean successfully while helping your little one learn to take the bottle.
She’s also your gadget queen: she will know all about pumps, pillows, and other supplies that can be helpful to both you and your baby.
If you are interested in finding out more about lactation consultants and how to find one in your area, visit the International Lactation Consultant Association site.
Have you worked with a lactation consultant?
Image via Christy Scherrer/Flickr