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Lactation Consultants 101: 10 Reasons to Schedule an Appointment

Throughout your pregnancy, you’ll read a lot of different books, websites, and information on becoming a new parent. It’s a great way to mentally prepare yourself for what’s ahead, but sometimes reading isn’t enough. To give you all of the tools you need for successful breastfeeding, nursing, and breast pumping, we recommend looking into hiring a lactation consultant. Lactation consultants can be utilized before and after delivery to help avoid or correct breastfeeding issues. In this article, we’ll talk about what a lactation consultant is and 10 reasons to schedule an appointment with a lactation consultant.

What is a Lactation Consultant?

A lactation consultant is a healthcare professional who is specialized in the clinical management of breastfeeding. They’re available for new and experienced moms who are having difficulty breastfeeding or simply need some extra support. If you’re looking to find a lactation consultant, it’s important to make sure that you check their training and certifications. The International Board of Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) is the highest standards for certifications and many lactation consultants also have some type of medical degree. Always ask for certifications to make sure that you’re hiring a qualified consultant.

Lactation consultants can help you solve a number of different problems that may arise when you start breastfeeding. They can also be used to help give you support and encouragement when you feel like nothing is working. If you’re struggling with breastfeeding, it might be time to consider calling a lactation consultant.

10 Reasons to Schedule an Appointment with a Lactation Consultant

There are many different reasons why you might want to consider a lactation consultant. If you’re struggling with one or more of the following aspects of breastfeeding, ask your doctor for recommendations on finding a lactation consultant near you. You might as well give it a try and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to keep seeing them. Here are the top 10 reasons to schedule an appointment with a lactation consultant.

  1. You’re Frustrated or Doubting Your Ability to Nurse

    If you’re struggling with breastfeeding in any way, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’re not alone. Lactation consultants are professionals and have plenty of experience with mothers who need a little help. Plus, many lactation consultants are moms themselves and have heard and seen everything. There’s no shame in reaching out to a professional, so don’t get too frustrated before you exhaust all of your options. Sometimes all you need is someone to guide you and encourage you along the way. Adding an extra person to your support team does wonders for boosting confidence and giving you a more positive outlook when you’re struggling. 

  2. Your Breasts or Nipples Hurt

    One of the most common reasons why new mothers stop breastfeeding is due to pain in the nipples and/or breasts. While it’s completely normal to experience a little sensitivity in your nipples after birth, it shouldn’t last very long. Breastfeeding is not a naturally painful experience. After the first few seconds of a new latch, you should not feel discomfort during nursing. If you are feeling any pain, especially if it’s unbearable, it’s time to schedule an appointment with a lactation consultant. Nipple pain can be a sign that you’re having latching issues so always listen to your body and seek help when you need it. If your nipples are hurting due to dryness, or they’re cracked, your lactation consultant can help you find a solution and recommend a product to soothe them in between feedings.

    If your breasts are hurting, you might be suffering from mastitis, engorgement, or plugged ducts. A lactation consultant can help you pinpoint the problem and relieve your symptoms. Engorgement can usually be relieved without medical attention, but you might need to schedule an appointment with your doctor for mastitis or a blocked duct. Mastitis is sometimes accompanied by an infection, which requires antibiotics and treatment. A blocked duct may indicate further problems, so if it doesn’t clear within 24 hours it’s best to see your doctor.

  3. Your Baby Isn’t Gaining Weight

    One sign that your baby isn’t getting enough milk while nursing is a lack of weight gain or even weight loss. While it’s normal for babies to lose a few ounces after birth, anything higher than that is an indication that your baby isn’t getting enough food and nutrients. A lactation consultant can help ensure you’re getting the right latch to adequately feed your baby.

  4. Your Baby Isn’t Latching

    If your baby isn’t latching correctly, they’re not going to get enough milk. When this happens, your baby won’t gain weight. While some mother’s notice a bad latch and simply can’t figure out how to fix it, others are completely unaware of the problem. If you can tell that the latch isn’t strong, or if your baby has a hard time latching in the first place, call a lactation consultant before you notice a lack of weight gain. Your consultant will help you with different techniques to ensure the proper latch, regardless of any hurdles or flat or inverted nipples.

  5. Your Baby has Special Needs

    If your baby has any additional needs or complications that make breastfeeding more difficult, a lactation consultant can help. Premature babies, babies with a cleft palate, tongue tied babies, or any baby that has a mental or developmental disability may require a few different techniques to make nursing easier. Luckily, lactation consultants have plenty of techniques readily available for you to learn. 

  6. You Have More Than One Baby

    Having twins or triplets, or even more, is an exciting, albeit stressful, time. Making sure that you’re prepared is the best way to ensure successful breastfeeding of multiples. Work with a lactation consultant before your delivery to get educational support on holding multiple babies for tandem feeding and tips on improving your milk supply. While it might seem overwhelming at first, you’ll get the hang of it quickly. 

  7. You’re Worried About Your Milk Supply

    A lot of new mothers start to worry about their milk supply. It can be hard to tell if you’re body is making enough and brings about unnecessary stressors to new moms. However, your milk supply works on a supply and demand system. The more you expel from your body, the more your body makes. This can get difficult if you’re relying on nursing alone and are having issues. A lactation consultant can help make sure that you’re optimizing your milk supply through proper latch and supplemental breast pumping sessions.

  8. You’re Going Back to Work

    As a working mom, one of the hardest things to do is to leave your baby and return to your career. However, just because you’re going back to work doesn’t mean you can’t provide your baby with the nutrients they need for a healthy development. Lactation consultants can help you figure out the best way to breast pump and store your milk to build a supply.

  9. You’ve Had a Breast Augmentation

    Breast reductions or augmentations are done for a number of reasons and you don’t have to avoid them if you’re thinking about breastfeeding. You can still breastfeed after a reduction or breast augmentation, there might just be a few unique challenges. A lactation consultant can help you maneuver any difficulties you’re facing trying to breastfeed with a breast augmentation.

  10. 10.You Just Need Help

If you can’t seem to put your finger on what’s going wrong, but you know something is, call a lactation consultant. Their jobs are to help you with everything and anything breastfeeding, nursing, and pumping related. If you don’t like the support, you can discontinue meetings, but it never hurts to give it a try.

What You Should Expect from a Lactation Consultant

During your initial meeting, you will likely start by discussing your medical history, a short description of your labor and birth, any medications or herbal supplements you’re currently taking, the problems you’re experiencing with breastfeeding, and any pain you have. Your lactation consultant will then work with you to determine your latching, your baby’s weight, sucking motions, and positioning. While it may seem a little unnerving at first, lactation consultants are there to help you and have seen it all—there’s no need to be embarrassed.

Thanks to the Affordable Health Care Act, lactation consultants are currently covered under your insurance provider. They should be covered without any deductibles or co-pays, but always confirm with your provider beforehand. To help assist you in breastfeeding needs, make sure you order your insurance-covered breast pump. Pumping is a great way to supplement nursing and will help relieve engorgement, build your milk supply, and provide plenty of nutrition for when you and your baby are separated during feedings. For more resources on breast pumps, breastfeeding, pregnancy, and becoming a new parent, Byram Healthcare has you covered.