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How a Lactation Specialist Can Benefit Nursing Families

Lactation consultant aiding new mom breastfeeding her newborn

It’s commonly believed that breastfeeding should be natural and easy, but let’s be honest—it can be tough and doesn’t always come naturally! Trouble with breastfeeding is incredibly common; over 70% of breastfeeding moms face challenges such as pain or worries about milk production. If you’re feeling frustrated or overwhelmed, know that it’s completely normal for it to take some time before you get the hang of breastfeeding.

Here’s the good news: you don’t have to go through this journey alone. Lactation consultants are here to help you get over any breastfeeding hurdle you might have! They’re experts in the process and challenges of breastfeeding, and provide support during any obstacle(s) you might be facing. With their knowledge and help, feeding time spent at the breast can be a positive experience for you and your little one.

What is a Lactation Consultant?

Ideally, breastfeeding should be an opportunity for you and your baby to bond. Unfortunately pain and frustration, and worry that their baby isn’t getting enough to eat, can ruin these moments. If breastfeeding isn’t flowing as smoothly as you’d like, your pediatrician can refer you to one of our in-house lactation consultants. You can consider them your breastfeeding coach.

Our team of specialists are all Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC). They know breastfeeding challenges inside and out, both from a professional standpoint and sometimes through personal experience. They can help guide you through the challenging aspects so that breastfeeding can be a rewarding part of your baby’s life.

Your breastfeeding expert will discuss your concerns and answer any questions you have. They will examine you and your baby during a feeding to gain more insight, and be able to give you an individualized plan of care specific to your challenges, in order to help improve your breastfeeding experience. At Families First Pediatrics, your lactation consultant and pediatrician are all part of the same team, communicating with each other to ensure your baby’s latch, growth, and appetite are all progressing.

When should I see a Lactation Specialist?

It’s totally normal for feeding times to vary for each baby. They are still learning and growing, so each feeding experience might differ. It’s important to remember that successful feeding shouldn’t be taken for granted. Sometimes, like the rest of us, babies might not be in the mood to cooperate.

Feedings may be going smoothly, with nothing to worry about, but consulting with a skilled lactation specialist, especially within the first 1-2 weeks, can be worth it. They can assess feedings, and give any recommendations that might be helpful to ensure feedings continue moving in the right direction.

Your lactation consultant will address any concerns you may have to see if anything specific needs to be addressed, or tell you whether you simply need to stay the course. They’ll also guide you through everyday challenges that can occur along the way, which might include:

Improper Latching: Sometimes, getting started is the hardest part. If your baby is having difficulty latching properly, this will lead to pain, slow weight gain, and frustration for both of you. A lactation consultant can observe latching during feeding and help guide you and your baby toward a more successful connection.

Milk Supply: One of the most common concerns among nursing parents is that although their baby is latching, they may not be getting enough food due to low milk production. That concern is almost always untrue. You’re likely making as much milk as your baby needs, but a lactation consultant can weigh your baby in the office before and after feedings to ensure they have enough to eat.

Pain While Nursing: In a perfect world, nursing is a comfortable and pleasant experience for you and your baby, but pain is one of the most commonly reported issues among breastfeeding women. While pain with breastfeeding is common, it is not normal! There will likely be some mild discomfort with the initial latch-on for the first few days once you first start breastfeeding. However, any pain during nursing can be caused from inadequate latching, a blockage, or awkward positioning, and a lactation consultant can help you identify and correct the issue so breastfeeding can be pain-free and enjoyable.

Overeating/Not Eating Enough: Wondering if your baby is getting the right amount to eat, especially when some feeding sessions are longer than others, can be stressful. Breastfeed babies nutrients and caloric intake vary between each feeding, and typically consume only what is needed during that feed, and stop when satisfied. A lactation consultant can gauge if your baby is swallowing too quickly- causing overfeeding or filling up on air, if they are not swallowing enough, or if they are getting just the right amount.

Feeding time doesn’t have to be frustrating for you or your baby. Getting support early on can make a big difference in your breastfeeding experience. Sometimes, just one visit is all it takes to turn things around and help you feel more comfortable and confident. We’re here to provide lactation support so you and your baby find the proper techniques for a successful and enjoyable breastfeeding journey.

Natural doesn’t mean it “comes naturally.”

Struggling with breastfeeding?

Overcome common nursing challenges and make feeding time rewarding for you and your baby by meeting with one of our friendly, experienced, IBCLC-certified lactation consultants.

Whitney Thorn, RN-BSN IBCLC

Whitney Thorn, RN-BSN IBCLC

Whitney is a lactation consultant in our Riverton office.

a happy father receives a kiss from his son

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