What is a lactation consultant and how can they help me?
According to the International Lactation Consultant Association website, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) is a healthcare professional that specializes in the clinical management of breastfeeding. IBCLCs are certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners under the direction of the US National Commission for Certifying Agencies. IBCLCs work in a variety of health care settings including hospitals, pediatric offices, public health clinics, and private practice.
According to the CDC Breastfeeding Report Card for 2013, 77% of infants begin breastfeeding. It is the highest number so far. Although, in 2010 only 49% of infants were still breastfed at 6 months. Even though the rates of breastfeeding are going up in this country, a lot of work still remains to be done to support young mothers, so that more babies are breastfed and continued to breastfeed beyond 6 months. Proper emotional and informational support is essential for that. This is where lactation consultants come in.
Benefits of using an IBCLC:
- Prenatal counseling about risk factors that may affect breastfeeding
- Basic position and latch of the infant
- Information about practices that promote successful breastfeeding
- Preventing and managing common concerns such as poor latch, inadequate milk transfer or supply, nipple or breast pain, and calming a fussy baby
- Milk expression and storage for mothers who must be separated from their babies
- Strategies for breastfeeding after returning to work
- Breastfeeding in challenging situations, such as breastfeeding twins or triplets, a premature or sick infant, or infants in special medical situations
If a lactation consultant is not affordable, La Leche League International can provide a free lactation consultation through its local chapter leaders.