Though breastfeeding is beneficial for both mom and baby, it is not always easy. In fact, often times, it is downright difficult, at least at first. Fortunately, for many women after some good instruction and lots of practice, both mom and baby get the hang of it.
The Role of the Lactation Consultant
A good lactation consultant can be a godsend. He or she (though it’s typically a she) will be able to provide detailed instruction about the breastfeeding process, not to mention a good dose of emotional support and encouragement. It can be tempting to quit breast feeding when first starting out. Breastfeeding can be painful and a baby may have a difficult time latching on. Having a great lactation consultant around can make a huge difference.
What are Lactation Consultants?
Lactation consultants are essentially breastfeeding experts. They may work at a hospital or doctor’s offices. Some work for themselves or are a part of a professional group of lactation consultants. They often offer one-on-one help but many will also conduct group classes if requested.
Many women initially come into contact with a lactation consultant in the hospital after giving birth. If a new mom tells her doctor or nurse that she would like to breast feed, they will often arrange a meeting between her and a lactation consultant.
How Can a Lactation Consultant be Helpful?
Common problems associated with breastfeeding include the inability of the baby to latch on, painful nursing (i.e., sore, cracked nipples), poor milk production and a lack of adequate weight gain by the baby because they are not getting enough food. Often times, these issues can be solved. It is the job of the lactation consultant to offer advice and provide direction to make the process easier. Other issues a consultant may be able to address are nipple confusion, formula supplementation and pumping.
Lactation consultants are well versed in all things which concern breastfeeding. They are knowledgeable about breast pump devices, how to prevent and manage pain when breastfeeding and breastfeeding supplies.
Locating a Lactation Consultant
There is a professional association of lactation specialists. In order to be accepted, consultants must meet certain criteria. Individuals may or may not want to hire a consultant who is a member of a professional association. If they do, they can generally find a listing of them at the association’s homepage. Another way to find consultants is to ask one's doctor.