I can’t count the number of times I hear my patients say, “I don’t know why I waited so long to call you,” or “I should have done this a long time ago.” It’s totally understandable though.
You’re in the spinning vortex that is postpartum life.
It can be a difficult time. Perhaps you’re thinking the nursing issues will eventually work themselves out. Oftentimes, parents are getting poor or conflicting advice from family, friends and care providers about what “normal” means when it comes to breastfeeding and how to deal with challenges. It can be confusing and extremely difficult to decide whether you need outside help.
The important thing to remember is that, as with most medical issues, the sooner we can see you and start a plan of care, the better the outcomes. Delays in care tend to snowball and create larger obstacles down the road.
As a rule of thumb, go ahead and call whenever you’re in doubt!
Maybe even plan for it before baby arrives. Here are some examples of when to call and how we can help:
- Latch refusal/general latch issues
- Weight gain issues
- Infant sucking issues
- Delayed arrival of mature milk
- Feeds “all of the time” or is “very sleepy”
- Fussy baby
- Premature/Late Preterm Baby
- NICU separation
- Issues with spit up, reflux, GI issues, etc.
- Nipple anatomy challenges: inverted nipples, flat, etc.
- Use of a nipple shield
- Sore/damaged nipples
- Engorgement/plugged ducts/mastitis
- History of breast surgery
- History of breastfeeding difficulties or low supply
- Current low milk supply or oversupply
- Not enough pees or poops
- Returning to work
- Experiencing general stress/angst around feedings
- Adoptive nursing/re-lactation/induced lactation
- Breast pump help
- General education, latch/positioning help and support
- Assistance with SNS or other feeding aids
- Tongue/lip tie/high palate
- Medication and breastfeeding questions
- Prenatal education
- Breastfeeding multiples
- Infant disability or serious medical challenge
- Receiving conflicting advice from family, friends or other care providers
- Starting solids
- Or if there are any other breastfeeding concerns not mentioned here!So, as you can see, there are many good reasons to call in the professionals for support! Even if you aren’t dealing with challenges, an IBCLC can offer counseling and reassurance. Some patients have concerns because they can’t physically see or measure the amount of milk being transferred from breast to baby and simply want confirmation that things are going the way they should be.
So, as you can see, there are many good reasons to call in the professionals for support! Even if you aren’t dealing with challenges, an IBCLC can offer counseling and reassurance. Some patients have concerns because they can’t physically see or measure the amount of milk being transferred from breast to baby and simply want confirmation that things are going the way they should be.
To ensure a high standard of expertise and training, make sure you’re searching for an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). The IBCLC requires thousands of hours of experience, education as well as training in anatomy, physiology, sociology, psychology or counseling, child development, nutrition, and medical terminology. Their certification is upheld with strict standards consisting of appropriate CEUs and re-testing. It can take many, many years to become an IBCLC. Essentially, it is the gold standard for care in the world of lactation, and these professionals may even work in-network with your insurance. Most LCs offer a superbill for you to submit to insurance for reimbursement, and your consult can often be charged to your FSA/HSA. There is a lot of support out there for you. Along with IBCLCs, there are CLCs (Certified Lactation Counselors), CLEs (Certified Lactation Educators), LLL (La Leche League Leaders), WIC support, Breastfeeding Peer Counselors, support groups, phone hotlines, and more.
It’s always a good idea to prep ahead of time. During your pregnancy, look around for IBCLCs in your area, interview a few and have someone lined up to see you once you have your baby. That way you can budget for it early on, or you can even register for it (always a great idea)! I offer gift cards that loved ones and friends often purchase for the expectant mother, and I couldn’t think of a more important, thoughtful and useful gift.
When a family is having breastfeeding challenges, a Lactation Consultant is the best chance for detailed troubleshooting, proper evidenced-based advice and success. Many new parents lack an experienced family member who can help when issues arise and also, many families are separated and do not live close to one another these days. Surprisingly, most pediatricians, OBs and nurses receive little-to-no training about breastfeeding (6-9 hours or less, yikes!). So, a Lactation Consultant is the specialist in this scenario and is a necessary member of your care team. Working with a professional who supports you and your family’s goals is important. Find someone you mesh with and get things off to a great start!
Guidance from Breanna Duncan of The Mama Mantra, LLC.
Edited by Jessie Collins
Featured image by Heather Gallagher