Breastfeeding is an extremely personal and important choice that each mother must make for herself, but like the old saying goes, it really does take a village (or at least some key support people) to empower mothers through this journey. This support ranges from partners, to family, to friends, and even medical professionals, such as lactation consultants.
A lactation consultant with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) credential is a skilled healthcare professional who specializes in the science of human lactation (breastfeeding) and in the assessment of breastfeeding women and their babies. They are champions who support and advocate for breastfeeding in their communities, and part of their role includes promoting and shifting breastfeeding back into the norm for infant feeding.
There are a few different certifications consultants can receive, with the “gold standard” being an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). These women are truly experts in breastfeeding because the certification requires registered nurses to take 90 hours of lactation education, 1,000 hours of clinical practice, and certification by an IBCLC exam. After becoming an IBCLC, consultants must continue their education throughout the years to make sure they are providing mothers and families with the most up-to-date lactation education.
So what can an IBCLC do for you in your breastfeeding journey?
Breastfeeding is not always easy, and when challenges arise, IBCLCs are the experts. They teach breastfeeding classes, provide breastfeeding assistance as needed and work with communities to improve the health of mothers and their children. IBCLCs also provide support and education to medical staff with up-to-date evidence-based practice. Qualified IBCLCs act as coaches and guides to nursing staff, provide valuable feedback and input to providers and can be a beacon of relief and/or hope to moms who struggle with, or question, breastfeeding choices.
These are some of the ways an IBCLC can help you on your breastfeeding journey:
- Teach breastfeeding classes to prepare you before delivery
- Provide assistance after delivery to help milk come in and get a good latch
- Help with any struggles through outpatient visits
- Host support groups where moms can learn from other mothers and lactation professionals at the same time
- Empower mothers and families with evidence-based lactation education
- Encourage and support you in your decisions
Where can I find a lactation consultant?
Lovelace Women’s Hospital’s Family Care Unit offers both inpatient and outpatient lactation services for our families.
How else does Lovelace Women’s Hospital support breastfeeding moms?
Lovelace Women’s Hospital (LWH) has received recertification as a Baby-Friendly designated birth facility by Baby-Friendly USA, Inc. LWH first achieved international recognition as Baby-Friendly in 2017.
This distinguished honor demonstrates that LWH is adhering to the highest standards of care for breastfeeding mothers and their babies. These standards are built on the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, a set of evidence-based practices recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for optimal infant feeding support in the precious first days of a newborn’s life.
What impact have Lovelace’s IBCLCs had on some local moms?
“When my third son had a short NICU stay, a Lovelace lactation consultant asked me if I would like her to arrange for me to get a hospital grade breast pump. She called my insurance and arranged everything. A breast pump literally showed up on my doorstep with zero effort on my part! I was able to use it until my son was ready to nurse and it was SO helpful!” -Paige
“When my first son was born he never really latched well. We went home thinking he would learn and it would get better. We struggled for weeks, he was losing weight, crying all the time, and not sleeping. I was in constant crippling pain, losing my mind, and was literally at the end of my rope. My husband found the number for the Lovelace lactation consultants and made us an appointment. We went in and the consultant spent over an hour watching him latch, watching our form, giving tips that actually helped AND THEN looked in his mouth (which apparently the pediatricians did not bother to do) and found that our baby had both a lip and tongue tie. He was UNABLE to latch and feed. She gave us resources to have the ties released and actually called us after the procedure just to check in on us. She was absolutely wonderful and probably saved me from PPD.” -Sarah