A lactation consultant might be one of the most valued members of your village after you welcome a new baby into the world. Many moms who desire to breastfeed find that they benefit from the support of other women who can also offer insight to make breastfeeding easier. Each baby is unique and so are their eating habits. And occasionally issues arise that a professional can help with. Even if you have breastfed before or feel confident about the process, we recommend selecting one before the birth of your baby. Here’s how a lactation consultant can benefit your breastfeeding experience, how to select one, and how to find a lactation consultant in your area.
Having even one session with a lactation consultant can be highly beneficial if it is your first time breastfeeding. You will learn about various positions to use depending on what you find comfortable and what sorts of chairs your home has, what equipment you might want to consider, and how to know if your baby is getting enough to eat. There is a learning curve to getting the hang of things and you don’t have to navigate it all on your own.
Each woman’s body is also different and some women experience issues such as chapped nipples or discomfort that a lactation consultant can provide solutions for.
As with many parenting ventures, having the support of other women and other parents goes a long way. Even if your lactation consultant isn’t a mother (some very experienced doulas and lactation consultants never have their own babies) she will be cheering you on, greatly increasing your chances of sticking with it and feeling successful at breastfeeding your baby. This might just come in handy on the days when you are extra tired.
If you have multiple children you might find that their nursing habits vary drastically. You might have one baby that takes to breastfeeding naturally followed by one that you struggle with. There is also the potential for complications such as a baby not “latching” or falling asleep each time they begin to eat. Whatever the issue, a good lactation consultant will work with you to troubleshoot.
Get tips for breastfeeding success in our article “Breastfeeding and Pumping 101.”
We have a growing list of lactation consultants in the AfterThird providers community. They love what they do, are backed by years of experience, and can’t wait to support your family. Plus, many have started to offer virtual services, expanding the number of great experts to choose from.
All you have to do to access our providers list is to create a free account here. You can then reach out to lactation consultants directly and start setting up calls. You will also have access to our free resources and events listings.
Don’t wait until your baby has arrived and you are sleep deprived and stressed out to try and find a lactation consultant. Start making calls and interviewing in your third trimester and have the contact information of someone you have already chosen handy even if you don’t end up using it.
You will want to look for someone who is an IBCLC or a CLC. IBCLC stands for International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and CLC stands for Certified Lactation Consultant. IBCLCs are certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners, Inc. (IBLCE). The CLC certification program is simpler and CLCs are great support for new mothers starting their breastfeeding journey. CLCs can support breastfeeding families with simple problems. It is not uncommon for doulas to also have training as a CLC so they can better support a family in the early days as they establish breastfeeding.
IBCLCs are the experts. Their training is extensive and they are able to support a wide range of families including families with more complicated breastfeeding issues. You will find them providing support in a wide range of healthcare settings.
There are many different approaches to breastfeeding support. This is someone you will be discussing very personal details with. So, make sure it is someone you trust and have good chemistry with by interviewing multiple providers.