I’ve been asked a lot of questions by new families over the years about what a Lactation Consultant is and what the job actually involves. Some of the things I hear every day…
- “I wish I’d known that earlier!”
- “I wish we had seen you sooner”
- “Wow… that’s normal?”
Some families want help but they’re not sure when or how to reach out and find the right person.
The list below is a great place to start when thinking about your feeding support:
Know what we do
An IBCLC is a healthcare professional trained in the clinical management of breastfeeding.
We troubleshoot, problem solve and have a lot of tricks up our sleeve. We often meet families when they’re thinking of giving up.
Our job is to help you overcome obstacles so that doesn’t happen.
Some are quick fixes, some take a little longer. What we don’t have is a magic wand (although I would love one!), this means often what works can take time and commitment from you.
We help you create a feeding plan but we can’t do it for you.
Know exactly what to look for
The truth is anybody can call themselves a Lactation Consultant. For you, the client, that makes life confusing!
I’ve no doubt there are non certified Lactation Consultants out there who are fantastic BUT as the client I feel you deserve to know the person you hand your money to has had official training and been through an examination process.
When searching, look for an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).
The education is extensive and the exam is rigorous – believe me, nobody gets that certification without knowing their stuff!
There is also an online register to check the status of your Lactation Consultant so feel free to ask for a License number so you can check us out!
Meet your IBCLC early
3 days into life as a new parent when you’re exhausted, frustrated and ready to throw in the towel is NOT the time to start an online search for the perfect help.
I encourage all new parents to be to think ahead.
This can be a prenatal consult with the IBCLC of your choice while pregnant (my recommendation!), an email exchange with someone who has been recommended or someone you like the sound of, at the very least a google search to see what’s out there is a start.
You could write some names and numbers down as a just incase!
Come with questions
As an IBCLC i’d love to stay at your home all day and night, but alas that’s not how this is going to work! In order to get the most out of your consult think about exactly what you want beforehand.
A lot of Lactation Consultants will ask for a list of issues before they arrive, this helps us to arrive prepared.
This may be an intake form or even a phone call. If you aren’t asked for this write everything down, better yet get someone to do it for you.
It helps us to help you if we have a little direction so don’t be afraid to let us know!
Be focused and free from distraction
Easier said than done I know! Crying babies and boisterous toddlers are part of most of our consults and fully expected.
What can be very difficult and what I’m referring to is multiple visitors or extended family members who mean well and want to help but may in fact be a little in the way.
Either say no to visitors during the time of your consult or have a separate part of the house, free from extra people that you can sit comfortably and really get to talk freely.
A lot of IBCLCs also offer office visits so be sure to enquire about that if it’s your preferred location. Partners or your biggest support person should always be present if possible, everyone else, keep them out!
A lot of these things seem obvious but a lot of things are happening towards the end of your pregnancy and even more once baby is born.
Take a little time to do some research, understand the help available before you need it.
Ask for help early and be prepared to listen, take in the advice and work on things.
As a Lactation Consultant my main aims are to have a happy and healthy Mom and baby.
This means you feel good about what you’re doing, you have a baby which is being nourished and gaining weight and you know you can reach out for friendly and non judgemental assistance whenever you need it!
My name is Marie I’m a midwife (CPM) and board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) living in Phoenix, Arizona! You can read more about me here. If you’re a new mom, soon to be new mom or know someone who could benefit from some friendly help or advice please see my services or send them my article about getting the most out of your lactation consultant!