What is a Certified Lactation Consultant and How Can Having One Help?

One of the major decisions that moms-to-be will make before giving birth is whether or not to breastfeed their new baby and if so, for how long? Since many women have plans of getting back to work after six to 12 weeks, it’s definitely a great idea to plan ahead and make decisions prior to having the baby. As parents-to-be. when you’re visiting and touring various birthing locations, make sure your goals are in line with the facility; ask questions about inpatient and outpatient services, including lactation support.

What is a Certified Lactation Consultant?

A certified lactation consultant can be a new mom’s saving grace.  According to the International Lactation Consultant Association®, they are healthcare professionals who specialize in the clinical management of breastfeeding. They are trained to coach you how to feed your newborn baby, effectively. They also help women resolve breastfeeding problems as well as help newborns who are not gaining the adequate amount of weight in the early stages.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for about six months and then combine breastfeeding and the introduction of appropriate foods from six to 12 months. This can be a daunting and stressful time for you and your baby if breastfeeding is not going smoothly. But don’t stress out too much! There’s definitely help and support available.

Common Breastfeeding Hurdles (And How a Certified Lactation Consultant Can Help)

Below is a list of common breastfeeding problems that you and your newborn may encounter that could hinder the breastfeeding process and make it seem impossible to continue.

  1. Low milk supply
  2. Painful latching or failure to latch
  3. Cracked nipples
  4. Plugged or clogged ducts
  5. Painful engorgement
  6. Mastitis
  7. Thrush
  8. Baby won’t stay awake while nursing
  9. Baby might be tongue-tied

A board-certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) can provide help and support for prevention and management of these common breastfeeding concerns such as:

  • Prenatal counseling about breastfeeding and lactation risk factors
  • Preventing and managing the aforementioned common breastfeeding problems
  • Breastfeeding and lactation best practices
  • Basic breastfeeding positioning and latching of the baby
  • Breastfeeding in challenging situations such as feeding multiple babies (twins, triplets, etc.). premature or sick babies or babies in special medical situations
  • Ideas for breastfeeding and lactation after returning to work
  • Milk expression and storage for parents who have to be separated from their babies

In addition, Burdett Birth Center offers free, drop-in breastfeeding support groups and a monthly Breastfeeding Basics classes to help support new moms on their breastfeeding journey. These classes are taught by Carrie Kimball, BSN, RN, IBCLC, certified lactation consultant. She also teaches our Back to Work/School/Life Program which helps support women returning to work or school after having a baby. Visit our page of childbirth education classes to see a schedule of dates, times and locations.

But Breastfeeding is Worth It

Research from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests that babies who have successfully breastfed for at least the recommended time of six months, reaped the short-term benefits of combatting disease and infections during infancy and the long-term benefits of optimal brain and neurodevelopmental functions. The newborn brain is uniquely sensitive to nutrition and to other aspects of the environment.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says, “Despite the recommendation to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months, less than 50% of infants were exclusively breastfed through three months and about 25% were exclusively breastfed through six months. These rates suggest that mothers may not be getting the support they need from healthcare providers, family members and employers to meet their breastfeeding goals.”

Breastfeeding benefits for moms include reduced risk of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and ovarian and breast cancer. According to the CDC, infants who are breastfed have reduced risks of asthma, obesity, type 2 diabetes, ear and respiratory infections, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

In fact, breastfeeding has proven to be so beneficial to the health and well-being of newborns and moms, that it is a key strategy to improve public health in the U.S., states the CDC.

To help find a certified lactation consultant in your area, visit the International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant® (IBCLC®)’s website. They have a directory that will help you find an IBCLC in your community.

This article is not intended to be used as medical advice, but instead for thought and consideration. If you have any questions about breastfeeding or lactation support, contact your healthcare provider directly. You can also schedule a private appointment with one of our Board-Certified Lactation consultants by calling the lactation office at (518) 271-3368.

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