What actually happens during a lactation consultation and when would I need one?
Whether you are expecting your first baby or you are a seasoned pro, breastfeeding can present its own set of challenges. It is tiring. Overwhelming at times. Maybe anxiety-producing. Sometimes just downright difficult. You may be experiencing pain with your baby's latch, you may be worried about your supply, or worried if baby is getting enough. Or maybe baby hasn't latched to the breast, is taking the bottle, but you want to give breastfeeding a try- is it too late to start? These are just a few of MANY concerns that may arise with feeding your little one. Who do you turn to for help? Who will listen to your story and give you individualized, expert care? Motherhood can feel isolating, but we don't want you to feel that way! If you are struggling with feeding your baby, or if you are expecting and planning to breastfeed, reach out to an IBCLC to help you on your journey! A lactation consultant will work alongside you and your baby to help you find the way to breastfeed that works best for both you and your baby.
This sounds great, right? But you may be wondering what exactly is lactation consultant? An IBCLC is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. An IBCLC is an expert in breastfeeding clinical management. They are certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners and advocate and provide support to breastfeeding families. Becoming certified takes a lot of time and a lot of work. IBCLCs must have a health science background, undergo 95 hours of approved breastfeeding education in addition to 500 supervised clinical hours in lactation settings (NICU, Labor & Delivery, Postpartum, Pediatrics, out-patient settings, etc) OR 1000 hours of independent clinical hours in the same clinical settings. There are 3 different pathways that one can choose to become certified depending on what is appropriate for their background or for their current situation. To become certified, the individual must also pass an intense exam. To maintain certification, every 5 years IBCLCs must complete 75 hours of continuing education. Phew, that's a lot!!! IBCLCs have a lot of clinical experience and education that allows us to truly provide the most expert, evidenced-based care for the breastfeeding family. We are the feeding experts and can help you and your baby overcome feeding challenges and succeed in your goals!
To find out more about the benefits of breastfeeding for both you and your baby, read here:
After reading the benefits of breastfeeding listed in the link above, you can understand why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby's life, followed by continued breastfeeding along with the introduction of complementary foods until the baby is at least a year old. The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF (United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund) both recommend breastfeeding initiation within the first hour of birth and exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life. Then from the age of 6 months, when solids are introduced, continuing to breastfeed for up to 2 years and beyond. (1)
So this is what the experts are recommending, but how good are we with following these recommendations?
Let's take a look:
-Globally, 3 in 5 babies are not breastfed in the first hour of life.
-Globally, only 41% of infants under 6 months of age are exclusively breastfed.
-One study reported that in the United States, 60% of people who breastfeed stop earlier than they intend to. (1)
-Percentage of infants who are breastfed at 6 months in the United States: 58.3 (2)
-Percentage of infants who are breastfed at 1 year in the United Sates: 35.3 (2)
Wow. 60% of women stop breastfeeding earlier than they intend to?! This statistic is alarmingly high. So why do women stop breastfeeding? According to a study that was conducted in 2013, the top reasons were: difficulties with lactation, infant nutrition and weight, illness or need to take medicine, and the effort associated with pumping milk. (4)
Did you know that an IBCLC can help with all the above issues (and so much more!)? Remember, we are experts in the clinical management of breastfeeding. I think it is quite safe to say that breastfeeding rates globally and nationally would be much higher if every woman had access to a lactation consultant! In fact, there are numerous research publications that conclude that lactation consultation increased the duration of breastfeeding. Several studies found that interacting with a lactation consultant prenatally and immediately after birth until discharged from the hospital, was enough to make a difference and result in the mothers breastfeeding longer. Other researchers found that women are more likely to breastfeed for extended periods of time when offered unlimited access to a lactation consultant or meeting with a lactation consultant both prenatally, in the hospital and postnatally. (5)
At Sweetly Nourish Lactation & Baby Care, we offer prenatal and postpartum lactation consults. During the prenatal consult, we will review your health history and discuss your feeding goals. We will discuss what to expect with breastfeeding in the first few days and in the first few weeks after delivery. We will also discuss:
-Maternal and Infant benefits
-Types and stages of breastmilk
-Normal Infant Intake
-Positioning & Latch
-Common Early Issues
During the postpartum consult we will review you and your baby's health history, discuss your feeding goals and make a specific, individualized care plan for you and your baby. We will do a breast assessment and a thorough oral exam will be done on your baby to assess baby's tongue function, lip function and suck. We will observe a feeding and do a weighted feed to determine volume transferred from the breast. We will go over positioning, latching techniques and other tips to help optimize you and your baby's feeding experience! Many struggles can be resolved in the intial consult, but sometimes there are challenges that take a little time to work through and would benefit from follow-up consults. We will support you every step of the way along your journey. Breastfeeding should not be painful or stressful, but rather a comfortable and enjoyable time with your little one.
Some issues that we can address during the consult include (but not limited to):
-pain with latching or difficulty latching
-baby not latching/breast refusal
-low milk supply or perceived low milk supply
-baby with slow weight gain/weight loss
-inverted or flat nipples
-clogged ducts or blebs
-returning to work and individualized pumping plan
-and much more!!
Are you expecting your first baby (or second, third, fourth...) and seeking breastfeeding education/support? Or maybe you are struggling with any of the above issues. Whatever your situation, please reach out to your local IBCLC for help and support. Helping mamas and babies is our speciality! Our goal is to empower YOU so that you can walk away from the consult feeling competent and confident in the skills we reviewed and the plan we established. Sweetly Nourish Lactation & Baby Care would be honored to work with you and your little one. We are based out of Windsor, CT for office visits. For local Connecticut residents we also travel throughout all of Hartford county, CT. Not local?, No problem! We can set up a tele-health prenatal or postpartum consult. We can accomplish A LOT over video consults. If interested in booking a consult, head over to our "Book Online" page for further information OR click here: https://www.sweetlynourish.com/book-online
For some moms, breastfeeding doesn't always work out, and that's okay! At the end of the day, what is most important is that your baby is being nourished (breast or bottle, formula or expressed milk) and that you are happy with the feeding plan. Your baby will not remember how they were fed or what they ate, but they will remember the loving arms of their parents and the safe, nurturing home you provide for them. And that is what truly matters.
Have questions? Concerns? Reach out to us! We are here for you!
Sweetly Nourish Lactation & Baby Care