BirthBreastfeedingFirst Five DaysLactation ConsultantPregnancy

Who ya’ gonna call when you’re crying?

Most parents rely on their pediatrician for feeding advice.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has a clear and supportive breastfeeding policy, but as a general practice, pediatricians are not educated in breastfeeding. When breastfeeding help is needed, most of your doctor’s breastfeeding knowledge has been presented and shaped by pharmaceutical (they make baby formula, along with drugs) representatives. The information you receive from your baby’s doctor reflects this bias.

When you interview pediatricians, ask how they will handle breastfeeding problems like sore nipples, low milk supply and slow weight gain. Ask which lactation consultants are they refer to when your baby isn’t breastfeeding well. If they can’t give you one, it’s a red flag that they are not the right pediatrician for you.

Many parents don’t anticipate breastfeeding problems, don’t have a backup plan, and don’t know who to call. As a result, they and their baby suffer for days, or weeks.

How do you get around this barrier?

If your pediatrician, obstetrician, or midwife is also a lactation consultant, start by asking them for help. They know you and your baby and will help you overcome your challenges. A lactation consultant uses the letters IBCLC after their name.

Set up a referral network before you have your baby.

This means taking a breastfeeding class, attending a breastfeeding support group and interviewing an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).

Lactation consultants often give breastfeeding classes and offer support groups where you can meet them. You may also schedule a prenatal lactation appointment to discuss and get guidance on your anticipated breastfeeding barriers.

When you interview lactation consultants, ask their level of training and certification, and their availability. Ask if they make home visits and what kind of follow-up care they provide. You also want to know what kind of problems they see most. And ask for two or three benchmarks so you know when it’s time to call for their help.

Some lactation consultants accept insurance. Others give receipts for reimbursement. Even if you don’t get reimbursed, it is money well spent and much less than the amount of money you will spend buying formula if breastfeeding doesn’t go well.

How do you find a lactation consultant?

To find one, ask for recommendations at the hospital, your doctor, from other moms, or your childbirth educator. Lactation consultants also have websites. Google “lactation consultant” along with your city, town or zip code. In addition, there are two professional directories of IBCLCs searchable by name and location: United States Lactation Consultants Association (USLCA) and International Lactation Consultants Association (ILCA.)

There is also online lactation consulting.

In these websites, you will receive guidance via video chat and generally, they will bill insurance for your visit. You won’t receive weighed feeds or have your baby’s sucking patterns checked, but you will receive useful information and guidance.

Here are directory links:

United States IBCLC
International IBCLC

Here are some questions you can ask a lactation consultant:

1. What is your level of training?
2. What is your availability?
3. Where is your office?
4. Do you make home visits?
5. How many visits should I anticipate needing?
6. What kind of follow up care do you provide after an appointment?
7. Is there anything you specialize in?
8. What services do you offer?
9. What are signs that I should call you?

And, you will probably have others that you are curious about. There is an answer to nearly every question you may have and there is no such thing as a dumb question. The answer just may save your breastfeeding experience.

Mother of three, including twins; Lactation Consultant; Partner of Michael;

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