Breastfeeding is perhaps the best gift a woman can give her baby; not only is breastfeeding an excellent way for mom and baby to bond, but breastmilk is also loaded with the perfect nutrition and infection-fighting antibodies new babies need.
Although breastfeeding is natural and straightforward, many women experience challenges, particularly with their first child. Some complications with nursing may include swollen or tender breasts, cracked or bleeding nipples, pain throughout the nursing process, difficulty latching the baby, insufficient milk, resistant family members, and more.
Why Visit a Lactation Consultant?
Women experiencing such difficulties can get assistance or support from trained counselors, who can work with both the mother and the baby to resolve the problem or answer the mother’s questions.
Certified counselors and consultants are well-educated in the concerns many pregnant women have when breastfeeding. Many have considerable experience breastfeeding their own children, and have struggled with some of the same concerns their clients experience.
Many counselors can also work with clients before the baby is born, to provide training and to determine whether women with certain health concerns may expect complications with breastfeeding, or to prepare women so that they know what to expect and how to act when the baby arrives.
Lactation consultants can be especially useful in special situations, such as new moms with premature babies or multiples, or for women returning to work or school with questions about pumping or milk storage.
Where to Find Qualified Breastfeeding Counselors
The International Lactation Consultant Association keeps an online directory of IBCLCs, or International Board Certified Lactation Consultants, who go through rigorous programs of study and must pass a final test before certification. IBCLCs are breastfeeding experts, and are considered health professionals.
The Lactation Consultant Directory at Breastfeeding.com also has an extensive list of qualified counselors, including some consultants who live and work outside the US (including South America, Australia, Europe, Asia, and Africa).
In some rural areas or less-populated regions, breastfeeding counselors or lactation consultants may be easiest to find in hospitals and public health departments and programs, such as the WIC Program.
Other Resources for Women With Questions About Breastfeeding
Many internet blogs and websites deal almost exclusively with breastfeeding, such as Breastfeeding.com, babygooroo.com, and La Leche League International (LLLI.org).
Government websites run by the CDC and WomensHealth.gov are also loaded with useful information for pregnant or breastfeeding women with questions or concerns.
In addition, breastfeeding women may be interested in how each state performed in the CDC’s Breastfeeding Report Card this year and how to eat a healthy diet while breastfeeding.