The Importance of Seeing a Lactation Specialist During Pregnancy

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Does Breastfeeding Come Naturally to Women?

A first-time mother-to-be may believe that breastfeeding comes naturally to women, and it is not necessary to prepare. It is true that breastfeeding is a natural process, and a woman’s body is designed to make milk that is rich in nutrients and easily digestible for her newborn baby. However, breastfeeding does not come naturally to all women and without preparation, there could be a negative impact on breastfeeding. It is important for both first-time moms and mothers who have never breastfed to seek help from a lactation specialist prior to giving birth, so they can educate themselves and have a successful breastfeeding relationship with their baby.

Photo Credit: Edenpictures from Flickr

What is a Lactation Specialist?

A lactation specialist is someone who has training in the areas of lactation. An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) has completed a required number of hours providing support to breastfeeding mothers, attended an accredited program through a college or certification program, and has passed an exam to become a Lactation Consultant. A breastfeeding counselor is someone who has completed a required number of hours supporting breastfeeding mothers and has passed an accredited certification course on lactation. Counselors can help teach mothers about breastfeeding and provide support, but they will refer a mother to a Lactation Consultant regarding complex issues or medical situations.

Scheduling an Appointment

To find a lactation specialist, a mother-to-be can contact the lactation center at her local hospital, search for specialists online, or look for a La Leche League (LLL) group in her area. Attending an LLL meeting will be beneficial to a new mother by helping her find trusted lactation specialists in her area and by helping her connect with experienced breastfeeding moms. To schedule an appointment, the mother-to-be should call the office in her last trimester of pregnancy. By scheduling the appointment in advance, she will have ample time to write down a list of questions or concerns she has regarding breastfeeding.

Benefits of Seeing a Lactation Specialist

While a lactation specialist cannot show a pregnant mother exactly how to latch her baby on correctly, she can show the mother pictures and videos of proper latching techniques. When a mother attempts to breastfeed her baby for the first time, it is a learning process for both her and the baby. Certain difficulties may arise due to medical complications, such as a baby with a tongue-tie or a mother who has flat or inverted nipples, that could lead to the baby’s inability to latch correctly. The lactation specialist will discuss how to correct these issues and what to look for, to ensure the baby is latched on and position properly while breastfeeding.

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