Finding a great Lactation Consultant

on December 23, 2013 in Breastfeeding

You’re at a loss! A new baby and who thought nursing could be so tough?  This is your first job, feeding your baby and maybe you’re feeling like a failure. This should be simple, right? But breastfeeding is a learned skill and also some mothers and infants have special issues that lead to difficulties.

 

You might speak with a friend or relative who has nursed but keep in mind that they may not have not experienced the same problem you are having. You may have seen a lactation consultant at the hospital or maybe not.  Maybe the nurses and your baby’s doctor were helpful but perhaps they all gave you completely different advice, confusing matters even more.  Perhaps nursing was going well after birth and now that you are home, things seem to be falling apart.

 

Lots of moms call their Pediatrician’s office or even go in for a check-up.  Your Pediatrician and their staff may or may not be able to help much. Many Pediatricians don’t have training in lactation evaluation and may not refer your to a source of help.

 

You might be among the thousands and thousands of mothers who consult “Dr. Internet”. Yes, many moms frequent nursing websites to help struggling new mothers. While well meaning, they often are great cheerleaders, but you may need a lot more than guesses at what is going wrong and what to do to fix your problem.

 

What so many new nursing mothers really need is an experienced set of eyes and great hands-on help! You may need a lactation consultant.

 

So if you are having a hard time, try and find the best lactation consultant in your area. You can certainly ask friends or your doctor’s office for recommendations. A few Pediatric offices have a Lactation Consultant as a part of their practices. Some Lactation Consultants have private practices and a few even make home visits. You can call your hospital’s OB department to see whom they suggest. Your hospital may even have a Lactation Consultant on staff, even if you didn’t meet her during your hospital stay.

It is ideal to try and get an IBCLC, that is an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant.  An IBCLC has taken course work, has had hundreds or even thousand of hours of experience and then have had to pass a basic exam in order to become certified. They must be recertified every 5 years. This helps to ensure that they have met the minimum competencies in the field of lactation.

 

Yes, you may need to pay for this service, but most insurance will cover a visit.  The price of a great lactation consultant is worth her weight in gold! Keep in mind that if breastfeeding comes to a premature end because of lack of help, you’ll need to purchase expensive infant formula for your baby’s entire first year of life.

 

If you are eligible for WIC (Women, Infant and Children’s Food and Nutrition Services), which is in every county across the country, you may find that they also offer breastfeeding help. If you are unsure about this, you can certainly call your local WIC office to see if you qualify for services.  You can find their number in the phone book. If you do qualify, you will also receive food coupons for you and your family.

 

So, if you can’t locate an IBCLC on your own, there is another resource for you.  Simply go to ILCA.org, which is the international organization of Lactation Consultants.  There you can find listings of area IBCLC’s if your scroll down a bit on their home page and enter your information.  If you still have any trouble in locating a lactation consultant, please call ILCA at (888) 452-2478 or contact them at info@ilca.org.

 

 

When visiting a lactation consultant, you will want to bring the baby to you’re an appointment when he/she is nearly ready to feed, after about 2-3 hours since the last feeding. She may want you to bring in your breast pump if you are using one or any breastfeeding aids that you may be using.  If possible, try and bring your partner or family member along who can help remember what the lactation consultant says and demonstrates for you.  Be sure to have with you all of your baby’s weights and ages at each when you arrive for the appointment.

 

You should expect that she will take a complete history on both you and your baby.  She will want to examine both your breasts and your baby’s mouth, observe the baby’s latch and weigh your baby both before and after nursing to determine how much milk your baby is drinking.  After her complete assessment, she will recommend a feeding plan for you and your baby. Most visits take 60-90 minutes. It is typical that she may want to see you again for a second follow-up visit or more until you and your baby are successfully feeding.

 

Hopefully, you will love your lactation consultant!  The best lactation consultants are kind and gentle with you and your baby.  You should get a clear diagnosis and treatment plan to be able to feed well on your own.  Breastfeeding is meant to be easy and an experienced lactation consultant can help get you reach your breastfeeding goals!