Lactation Consultants: Why and How to Use a Lactation Consultant

Much like other areas of our lives, when we’re struggling with something, calling in a professional can be a big help. Although very rewarding and full of benefits for mothers and babies, breastfeeding can be a challenging experience for many moms.  Lactation Consultants offer advice and support that sometimes makes the difference between successful breastfeeding and an early dropout rate.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for at least the first year of an infant’s life, and they cite many additional benefits of breastfeeding for longer.  Even moms who read, take classes and do their research on breastfeeding before giving birth often have difficulties when it comes to putting the knowledge into practice.  Because there is a finite amount of time that women can maintain their breast milk, seeking help as quickly as possible is essential for a successful breastfeeding experience.

lactation consultantsEvery mother and child have a unique breastfeeding relationship.  Whether you are a first-time mom or a veteran, any mom can find themselves in a frustrating breastfeeding conundrum.  Lactation Consultants can help with a variety of issues that arise for breastfeeding moms.  The most common problems are trouble latching, maintaining a baby’s interest and low milk supply.

Lactation Consultants can often help with other issues including suggesting various breastfeeding positions, helping with transitions like returning to work or introducing solids, and breastfeeding through mastitis and plugged ducts.  Perhaps most importantly, Lactation Consultants offer guidance and support to encourage women to meet their personal breastfeeding goals.  While pediatricians, partners and friends are often supportive of breastfeeding, they may not have the expertise to give constructive advice to resolve breastfeeding challenges.

There are several certifications of Lactation Consultants.  IBCLC stands for International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, which have the highest qualification in the field and are considered experts.  They go through extensive education and take an exam for their certification.  Certified Lactation Consultants have mid-level training and also have to pass a course for their designation.  Lactation counselors or mentors may have no formal training but are experienced mothers or people interested in helping others succeed in breastfeeding.

If you are looking for a lactation consultant to meet your needs, you can look for one in several places.  First, your OBGYN or pediatrician may have a referral for you.  Using someone recommended by your doctor or your baby’s doctor usually means they have a similar philosophy and style of care that you may already appreciate.  You can also find Lactation Consultants through databases from Breastfeeding USA or LaLecheLeague.  Both of these resources offer a wealth of certified Lactation Counselors in your area who you can call.  Another option is to call the hospital where you delivered for a recommendation.

Be sure to check with your insurance company about lactation support as well.  Under the Affordable Care Act, many policies include a stipend for lactation services to ensure new moms can be successful in breastfeeding.  Breastfeeding is in the best interest of insurance companies, the healthcare system and the economy because breastfeeding often results in less illnesses for mothers and children.  This puts less stress on healthcare providers, hospitals, employers and families over time.  Therefore breastfeeding is an important measure in preventative care for young families.

If you experience trouble breastfeeding, don’t waste time.  Find a Lactation Consultant quickly to ensure you can meet your own breastfeeding goals and provide the best nutrition for your baby.