Breastfeeding is a remarkable experience that offers benefits ranging from immune system support to bonding and emotional connection.
My personal breastfeeding journeys have been fulfilling experiences with my own children, but we did face some challenges along the way. Those challenges inspired me to become a breastfeeding peer counselor and certified lactation counselor myself, so I could help other families who need support with breastfeeding.
August is national breastfeeding month
August is National Breastfeeding Month, and I wanted to take the opportunity to share why you might consider adding a lactation consultant to your prenatal and postpartum journey. From personalized care and early intervention to confidence-building and postpartum assistance, a lactation consultant’s expertise is invaluable in learning how to nurse successfully.
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A lactation consultant can help ensure a fulfilling experience for your family no matter the circumstances — whether you are exclusively breastfeeding, exclusively pumping, or combination feeding. Non-birthing parents can even benefit from a lactation consultant.
This article is for informational purposes only and should not replace professional medical advice.
Here are six ways a lactation consultant can help:
Knowledge and support
Breastfeeding is a natural process, but it doesn't always come easily! A lactation consultant deeply understands breastfeeding techniques, positioning, and potential challenges.
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Each parent-baby pair is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. A lactation consultant recognizes this and tailors their approach accordingly. By providing personalized care, lactation consultants empower families in their infant feeding choices.
Timely support is crucial during the prenatal and postpartum period. A lactation consultant can identify and address potential breastfeeding challenges early on, minimizing the risk of complications and promoting a positive breastfeeding experience.
A confidence boost
Breastfeeding can be an emotionally charged experience, and many new parents face doubts and anxieties along the way. Having a lactation consultant as part of your support team can provide a much-needed confidence boost. They offer reassurance, practical advice, and encouragement to families.
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Getting partners involved
Breastfeeding is a shared journey and involving partners in the process can be immensely beneficial. Lactation consultants recognize the importance of partner support and involve them in the process. By providing partners with knowledge and techniques to support breastfeeding, lactation consultants enhance the overall experience for the entire family.
Lactation Consultants can also help with plans to return to work or school, donation of milk, weaning, and safely suppressing milk production.
How do you find a lactation consultant?
Not sure where to start in finding a lactation consultant? Seek recommendations from trusted friends, doctors, or local breastfeeding support groups.
Once you have recommendations, ask about the consultant’s experience and certification. An IBCLC is the gold standard of lactation providers. Verify their credentials, experience, and specialization in supporting families with needs like yours.
Ask whether they offer in-person consultations, virtual support, or both, so you know they can accommodate your schedule and needs. And lastly, make sure you are compatible! You want someone you feel is empathetic and non-judgmental, who you trust and with whom you feel comfortable sharing this special time.
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You don't have to navigate breastfeeding alone — reach out to a lactation consultant who can help you confidently embark on your breastfeeding journey.
Janel Plunkard is the publisher of Macaroni KID Springfield, Mo., and a lactation counselor at My Nourished Family. She will take her board-certification exam in the fall of 2023 to earn an IBCLC credential.