When I tell people that I am a lactation consultant, I occasionally get asked what a lactation consultant is and who would need one, so I thought I would answer that here.
Lactation consultants have a lot more breastfeeding training than any other health professionals such as doctors, midwives or maternal and child health nurses and are able to spend more time with you, helping with breastfeeding and answering your questions. Lactation consultants generally see clients either at their home, an office or hospital. Lactation consultants of Australia and New Zealand explains “IBCLCs are the members of the health care team who have a specialist knowledge of, and primary focus on, breastfeeding. They are the experts whom mothers and other health professionals turn to when skilled assistance is required.”
Any woman who needs assistance with breastfeeding may benefit from a consultation with a lactation consultant. Many new mums don’t want to ask for breastfeeding help (or help in general), however seeing a lactation consultant may get breastfeeding off to a good start or help you through a rough patch.
Midwives are great for getting breastfeeding started and when all is normal, but don’t always have enough time to spend one on one with each women and their support is generally limited to the first day or 2 you are in hospital, as a midwife I know I would love to be able to spend much more time with women in the early days to get breastfeeding started well. Women who needs breastfeeding support can also contact the Australian breastfeeding association (ABA) or a lactation consultant, the ABA counsellors can be a great starting point to discuss your concerns over the phone or via email.
The women I see privately and through the hospital (when I am not on maternity leave) are varied in age, education and concerns, but they all want to breastfeed and they want to breastfeed for a variety of reasons. Lactation consultants are not breastfeeding Nazis that insist all women must breast feed, they are about helping and supporting women. I have worked with a few women who were the small percentage of women that are unable to breastfeed or fully breastfeed and they found it helpful to know they had tried everything and hopefully were able to talk through their concerns about not getting the breastfeeding experience they hoped for.
Why should I call a lactation consultant?
Most often I see women who need some advice on getting their baby attached to the breast without pain. Some have additional challenges such as nipple inversion, extra large or small breasts, tongue/lip tie, breast surgery premature babies, unwell babies or other concern.
If breastfeeding gets off to a rough start it can lead to low milk supply and I can often work with mums and babies to get supply back to normal .
How to find a lactationconsultant through your local hospital or child and maternal health, or your doctors office. Or privately http://www.lcanz.org/find-a-consultant.htm