Breastfeeding is a skill that needs to be learned. It takes practice and patience by both mom and baby to get into the swing of things. And during this learning process, many new moms have a lot of questions. Questions like, “Am I doing this right?” “Is my baby getting enough milk?” and “Should it hurt this much?”
This is where Lactation Consultants (LCs) can help. LCs are healthcare professionals who can help guide you through the breastfeeding basics, provide answers to your questions, and give you the support and advice you need.
Wondering if you should schedule an appointment? If any of these situations sound like you, an LC can help!
- You feel clueless about where to start. Don’t feel like you should know everything about breastfeeding by the time baby comes – no one does! But working with an LC right away can help you learn the basics quickly and give you the best start possible.
- Your baby isn’t latching or feeding effectively. If nursing hurts and your baby is fussy at the breast, or if your nursing sessions are taking more than 30 minutes, it could be a sign of a poor latch. An LC can pinpoint the problem and work with you to find a solution.
- Your breasts and nipples are sore. While some tenderness and soreness is normal in the first few days of breastfeeding, if you are experiencing more severe pain or if your nipples are cracked and/or bleeding, you should seek help.
- You think you have a low milk supply. It’s fairly uncommon to have low milk supply, but even if you just think you have low supply, it’s a good idea to talk with an LC to make sure your baby is effectively nursing.
- You are frustrated and doubting yourself. Breastfeeding can be challenging at first. You don’t know if you’re doing it correctly or if you are making enough milk. And while these feelings are normal, seeing a Lactation Consultant can give you the confidence in yourself and your baby to keep going.
- You’re constantly searching Google for answers to your questions. Search engines can lead you down a rabbit hole, and before you know it, you can convince yourself you’re doing everything wrong. If you have any breastfeeding questions, the best place to turn is to a professional.
- Your baby isn’t gaining weight. It’s normal for babies to lose some weight after birth. But if your pediatrician notices your baby isn’t gaining normally after those first few days, a Lactation Consultant can troubleshoot with you to determine if you truly have low breast milk supply, or if it’s a different issue that can be solved. Remember, while it’s wonderful that you want to exclusively breastfeed, your baby’s health is more important. Be sure that they are healthy and growing, even if that means deviating from your original breastfeeding plan.
- Your baby has special needs that affect his/her ability to breastfeed. Some babies are unable to nurse effectively because of physical challenges, such as a cleft palate or Down syndrome. An LC can help you find products that are designed for babies with special needs that allow you to continue to feed your baby your breast milk.
- You have twins or multiples. Breastfeeding twins or multiples becomes even more challenging. But an LC can provide extra support, show you how to hold your babies in order to feed two at once, and help make sure your supply is providing adequate nutrition to both (or all!) of your little ones. The best way to prepare for breastfeeding twins or multiples is to get in touch with a Lactation Consultant before giving birth.
- You have plugged ducts, mastitis, or engorgement. If you find yourself struggling with any of these uncomfortable – even painful – issues, it’s a good idea to reach out for help. Lactation Consultants are well versed in these issues and can be extremely helpful in getting you through it.
- You have ANY breastfeeding question. No question is dumb. No question is too weird. No question is off limits. Lactation Consultants have heard them all, and are there to help you with whatever breastfeeding questions you have.
- You need a little encouragement. In many cases, your LC is also a mom and has been in your shoes – nervous, excited and a little unsure. She can support you through any challenges or difficulties you run into. This encouragement can mean the difference between meeting your breastfeeding goal and stopping before you want to.
To find a Lactation Consultant, reach out to your OB/GYN or pediatrician – they might already partner with an LC, or they may be able to recommend one to you. Or, you can use our online tool to find an LC near you. Medela also offers the service of our own Board Certified Lactation Consultant who can help moms having a hard time breastfeeding. Through our Ask the LC program, you can consult one-on-one via email with our Lactation Consultant, who will assist you with any breastfeeding questions and concerns you may have.
Did you use an LC when you started breastfeeding? What was your experience like? Share in the comments below.