Breastfeeding is HARD! It is a new skill for both you and your baby, and it takes time to learn. Unfortunately you have to learn this new skill while also sleep deprived and recovering from delivery and possibly major surgery! It can be extremely stressful trying to deal with all of the emotions and physical symptoms that you will experience postpartum while also trying to ensure your baby is getting enough to eat. This is where a lactation consultant can be very helpful!
How can a lactation consultant help with your breastfeeding journey?
Improve latch: Many people who are breastfeeding will encounter some early struggles with poor latch and/or pain with breastfeeding. Over time this can mean that your baby is not taking in enough milk which can affect your body's ability to continue producing milk. Getting help from a lactation consultant early on in your breastfeeding journey can help you get a better latch to prevent nipple damage and pain from improper latch, and set you on the right path to producing and maintaining a full milk supply.
Identify potential problems: Some people, particularly those with certain medical conditions or a history of breast surgery, will face additional challenges to breastfeeding. Some people have difficulty producing enough milk due to certain health conditions or surgeries, others have difficulty releasing milk to their baby due to nerve damage from surgery. Some mothers have no problems producing milk but their babies are not able to transfer milk well due to a their own health problems, neuromuscular restrictions, or ankyloglossia (tongue tie). A lactation consultant can recognize signs of these problems and refer you to the appropriate physician to diagnose and/or treat these conditions.
Reduce stress and anxiety: Whatever challenges you experience during your breastfeeding journey, a lactation consultant can help you manage expectations and support and guide you through the process. Even if you don't experience breastfeeding difficulties, you may still experience some stress or anxiety through transitions such as returning to work or weaning. An experienced lactation consultant has been through these transitions many times with other clients (and often also themself!) and can help you navigate these changes.
Who should see a lactation consultant?
Any person who wishes to breastfeed can benefit from seeing a lactation consultant, but it is especially recommended for individuals who are experiencing pain, concerns about low supply, or other difficulties with breastfeeding. People with a history of medical conditions that may impact breastfeeding such as diabetes, PCOS, thyroid disease, and infertility, as well as individuals with a history of breast surgery, will benefit from seeing a lactation consultant prenatally so that they can be prepared for any challenges they may face and have a plan in place to set them up for their best chance at success.
How can we help?
At Vida Family Medicine, we offer postpartum and lactation support in many ways. Whether you would like a prenatal consult to prepare for breastfeeding, need a lactation consult postpartum, or are already working with a lactation consultant and need a referral to a physician experienced in breastfeeding medicine to evaluate problems such as low milk supply, we can help! Dr. Berens is a board-certified family physician (MD) and an international board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) with personal experience in breastfeeding her own children in addition to her professional expertise in breastfeeding medicine. She offers a la carte lactation consults as well as a comprehensive 4th trimester package to help support you not only with breastfeeding but with the many other health and wellness concerns that can arise in the postpartum period. Schedule online today or contact us to learn more about our services.