How Lactation Consultants Help with Breastfeeding
A lactation consultant helps breastfeeding mothers and their babies. The lactation consultant may work in a hospital, clinic, physician's office, or private practice.
While a lactation consultant may or may not be certified, it may be in your best interest to seek out an Internationally Certified Breastfeeding and Lactation Consultant (ICBLC), as the education and training levels of lactation consultants may vary.
An Internationally Certified Breastfeeding and Lactation Consultant is a special type of health care professional who specializes in the clinical management of breastfeeding. This type of lactation consultant has passed a special exam given by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE). In addition, he or she has received specialized training to help nursing mothers and their babies. This credential of IBCLC is the highest level of certification for lactation consultants.
At your first consultation, your lactation consultant may take your medical history and the breastfeeding history of you and your baby. He or she may also observe you nursing in order to develop a plan. This plan may include referrals to other healthcare professionals, community services, and support groups.
According to the IBLCE, the lactation consultant can help you with the following:
- Breastfeeding education, instruction, and equipment.
- Prenatal counseling where breastfeeding is concerned, including breastfeeding risk factors.
- Breastfeeding issues or concerns like nipple pain, latching issues, or inadequate milk.
- The correct way to express and store milk if you must be separated from your child.
- Correct positioning and latching of your baby.
- Information about practices that promote successful breastfeeding, including how you can continue to breastfeed after returning to work.
- Special or challenging breastfeeding situations. If you are nursing multiples or a preemie, the lactation specialist can help you. Also, if your baby is sick or has special medical conditions, the lactating consultant can find solutions for you.
Consider working with a lactating consultant. He or she will be able to add valuable support and education and help make your breastfeeding experience comfortable and healthy for you and your new baby. You can find a lactating consultant by contacting the International Lactation Consultant's Association (ILCA), or ask your physician.