Breastfeeding is a way to nourish your baby in a natural way. But just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Fortunately, there are experts moms can turn to for help with breastfeeding – lactation consultants.

What is a lactation consultant?

A lactation consultant is a certified health professional who specializes in breastfeeding issues. Their training allows them to help mothers manage a range of problems associated with breastfeeding and solve challenges that may arise.  Some lactation consultants work in hospitals and birthing centers, while others have private practices.

Common breastfeeding problems

Every woman is different. Some mothers will easily adapt to breastfeeding with no issues while others may experience problems, especially when nursing first begins. Some of the most common issues associated with breastfeeding include:

  • Sore nipples
  • Low milk supply
  • Breast infection
  • Engorgement
  • Plugged ducts
  • Physical challenges that could impact feeding such as inverted, flat, or very large nipples

Lactation consultants can help with these breastfeeding issues and others, especially when addressed early. With some practice and guidance, a mother’s breastfeeding journey can still be successful. 

How breastfeeding problems affect mom and baby 

When a woman has trouble breastfeeding, it takes a toll on both mom and baby. For mom, it may mean physical discomfort and an emotional toll. For baby, it could result in weight loss. That’s why seeking advice from a lactation consultant can be important. They can help you with the proper technique and problem solving and can also connect you with other resources. 

When should a woman see a lactation consultant?

Lactation consultants are available to meet and consult with mothers before delivery to help you plan for baby’s arrival or after you deliver your baby and experience issues with breastfeeding. 

Why see a lactation consultant?

A mother often seeks help from a lactation consultant during the first few weeks of her baby’s life when breastfeeding is being established. At this time, baby is still learning to feed from the breast, and often, mothers are learning, too. It’s important to be patient and seek help early if needed. Lactation consultants provide help to a range of individuals, from mothers who’ve already breastfed to first-time parents and surrogate mothers. 

How can a lactation consultant help?

A lactation consultant can help you establish your goals for breastfeeding and help you develop a feeding plan that works for you and baby. They can also recognize issues early on, help you correct them, and prepare you for what to expect. 

Lactation consultants offer more than just guidance with breastfeeding. They also help with ordering a breast pump, teaching preparation classes, facilitating support groups, or doing home visits. These experts are a vital resource to help you feel confident in how you feed your baby.

Visit our website for more information on breastfeeding support and our Noreen Stonor Drexel Birthing Center

Victoria M. Gatling BSN, RN, IBCLC

Victoria M. Gatling, BSN, RN, IBCLC, is a nurse and certified lactation consultant at the Noreen Stonor Drexel Birthing Center at Newport Hospital.