It isn’t rare for a new mom to be worried about breastfeeding. You may be fearful of how painful it can be and wonder what to do if you have questions or need help.
Here at Babycare Mag, we highly recommend seeking out a certified Lactation Consultant while you are pregnant. While women in traditional cultures lean on aunts, cousins, and neighbors for help, you’ll need someone, too!
Talk to a lactation consultant about your questions, worries, and goals for your breastfeeding journey.
Too often, moms assume nursing their little one will be hard or even impossible. In reality, many new breastfeeding moms may struggle the first few days and/or weeks but if they keep at it, will reach a point where nursing becomes more than natural.
We most definitely recommend reaching out for extra support without feeling embarrassed about it; you may be surprised at the amount of moms who need the consultation of a lactation specialist.
There is no shame or reason to feel embarrassed about struggling to nurse or needing extra support.
If you’re hoping for a happy, successful breastfeeding relationship with your baby reach out to a lactation consultant.
For now, we have the honor of hearing from Aria Baker, a certified Lactation Consultant, about breastfeeding! Aria is a professional in the birthing and breastfeeding world so it is quite a privilege to hear from her. They give us the inside scoop and all we need to know when planning to breastfeed! But first, let’s ensure we understand what Lactation Consultants do.
Aria Baker graduated from Oregon State University with her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees. She started teaching breastfeeding classes and serving as a volunteer breastfeeding counselor shortly after the birth of her first child 13 years ago. Aria worked as an assistant midwife and became an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) in 2009. She is currently the Breastfeeding Peer Counseling Coordinator and Lactation Consultant at the Clackamas County WIC Program in Oregon. Aria serves on the Board of Directors of the Northwest Mothers Milk Bank.
We asked Aria what a Lactation Consultant is. She responded with “A Lactation Consultant is a professional who specializes in the field of lactation. IBCLCs are certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE). IBLCs have a unique set of education and experience to provide breastfeeding support in a wide range of circumstances, ultimately increasing breastfeeding rates and improving health outcomes.”
Question: What does a lactation consultant do?
Aria: In the context of our day-to-day work, we are breastfeeding helpers. But, collectively, our work reaches much further: lowered healthcare costs, improved lactation policies and programs, and cultural normalization of breastfeeding.
Lactation consultants work in hospitals, private practice, for corporations, in public health agencies, and in other settings. I have worked for the past 6 years for Clackamas County’s Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program. WIC is a nationwide public health nutrition program. Prenatal education is a primary focus of our work here at WIC. We want parents to have all the information they need to make informed feeding decisions.
As an IBCLC I am often called upon to assist with breastfeeding establishment in the early days and weeks. I weigh babies, offer latch and positioning guidance, and provide tips and encouragement to help moms reach their breastfeeding goals. Lactation consultants are also available to discuss topics such as teething and weaning.
Question: Why should a breastfeeding mom see a lactation consultant?
Aria: I hope that EVERY mom has access to an IBCLC during pregnancy and after birth. In some cases parents have specific questions, say for instance about latch or milk supply. But much of what I do is reassuring new moms about the normal course of breastfeeding and parenting a new baby. If referrals or follow-ups are necessary, we can provide additional support in those areas.
Question: How can a mom find a lactation consultant?
Aria: Moms can find a lactation consultant by calling their doctor, midwife, place of birth, local WIC Program, or their health insurance company.
Question: Do you know of any access to free or income-based lactation consultants?
Aria: Many moms have health insurance coverage for IBCLCs, so we encourage moms to inquire about their lactation coverage. WIC Lactation Consultants are free to eligible WIC participants.
Question: How does one become a lactation consultant?
Aria: I send anyone who is interested to the IBLCE website (http://iblce.org/). There are a few different pathways towards certification depending on the education and clinical experience history of the candidate.
Question: Who can become a lactation consultant?
Aria: To be eligible to sit for the IBCLC exam candidates must meet minimum requirements in the areas of education and clinical practice as set by the IBLCE.
Question: How much does the average lactation consultant charge?
Aria: Some lactation consultants in private practice charge over $100/hour. Most moms that I work with receive IBCLC care covered by their insurance at a hospital or here at WIC for free.
Question: Which food increases lactation and is there a specific diet a mom should eat while breastfeeding?
Aria: The best way to assure a great milk supply is to breastfeed very frequently. There are no foods that mom must eat or avoid. We recommend that mom makes healthy choices when possible but in general enjoys her normal diet. She will still make perfect milk for her baby.
Question: What increases lactation?
Aria: An effectively breastfeeding baby is the best way to increase and maintain milk supply. For many moms with milk supply questions, we can often reassure them by weighing their baby and discussing baby cues and feeding history.
Question: What are lactation cookies and do you recommend them?
Aria: Lactation cookies have been quite popular for a few years now, and some moms feel they have increased their milk supply. We recommend that moms focus on breastfeeding frequency when they have questions about milk supply.
Question: Why does lactation decrease?
Aria: Milk supply decreases when breastfeeding frequency decreases or when Baby is not breastfeeding effectively. Some medications are contraindicated during breastfeeding due to their effect on milk supply. In these cases, we recommend that moms work with their healthcare provider to find an alternative medication to protect milk supply.
Question: Are there lactation problems after cesarean sections?
Aria: Typically, no. Sometimes moms who have had a c-section benefit from some extra help with ideas for positioning their babies for comfort. We recommend normal follow-up care in terms of monitoring baby’s weight and diapers and being in touch with an IBCLC.
Question: Is there anything else you would want to share?
Aria: If your goal is to breastfeed, talk with those around you about their experiences with breastfeeding. Develop your support team and educate yourself. Plan for breastfeeding to go smoothly…because it probably will! Your baby will be born with amazing instincts that will help breastfeeding get off to a good start. Nurse very frequently and get help early. Every drop of breastmilk is a gift!
Did we miss anything? Did anything in this interview surprise you? What would you ask a lactation consultant?