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Find out what to expect while breastfeeding and how a lactation consultant can help.
For a new mom, breastfeeding is a totally new skill. As you get to know your baby (and your boobs), you may have a lot of questions. A lactation consultant is an amazing resource that can help make your breastfeeding journey easier. By providing support, hands-on help and plenty of info, International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) are on your side. Read on to find out the top things they wish all new moms knew about breastfeeding and working with an IBCLC.
It Takes Time to Get the Hang of Breastfeeding
It’s funny to think that something as natural as breastfeeding doesn’t always come so naturally. There’s a learning curve to breastfeeding in which you and your baby will get to know each other and figure out what works for you. But know this: within the first two weeks, you’ll become so much more comfortable, both with recognizing baby’s cues and with the actual act of breastfeeding. Any initial nipple soreness and major engorgement will go away, and your supply will be more regulated. As baby grows, your breastfeeding relationship will continue to evolve, but you’ll feel much more confident after that first couple of weeks.
You Might Be Sore at First
When your milk comes in, your breasts will likely feel very full, hard and warm. Your nipples, too, will probably feel sore at first, simply because they’re not accustomed to being latched onto by your baby multiple times a day. Though you may experience some initial soreness, you should expect it to subside within 30 seconds of baby latching, and to disappear entirely after 10 days of breastfeeding.
If you’re experiencing sustained pain during or after nursing, contact a lactation consultant, who can help you to address what is likely a latching issue. Know that prolonged pan, cracking and bleeding are all issues of immediate concern. If you notice them, you should get in touch with a lactation consultant as soon as possible.
Breastfeeding Products Can Make Things Easier
There are so many breastfeeding-related products on the market, from clothing to accessories like nipple pads and shields. We highly recommend registering for a nursing pillow to support baby and prevent back pain, as well as a comfy nursing bra that provides easy access to the nipples. But really, the most crucial part of breastfeeding is YOU. Focus on taking care of yourself (we know it’s tough—especially in those first weeks) and establishing your supply. A lactation specialist can help you do just that!
A Lactation Consultant Can Help Before and After Baby Arrives
Lactation consultants are often called in when moms have an issue or concern. But a consultation doesn’t have to happen at the first sign of trouble. IBCLCs can also establish a relationship with you and provide information that will set you up for success when baby does arrive. They can address concerns and answer questions—and, trust us, no question is off-limits. They’re experts focused on helping you achieve your individualized goals, celebrating your milestones and helping you overcome any challenges. We’re here to set you up for success.
IBCLC Visits Are Customizable
Let’s talk about what happens at a standard visit: an IBCLC will start by going over your medical, delivery and breastfeeding history as well as what’s currently going on. In many cases, they’ll perform a weighted feed—weighing baby before and after a feeding to see how much milk he or she is taking in—so it’s a good idea to make sure your baby hasn’t eaten right before the visit. They’ll then physically assess baby, evaluate his latch, observe his sucking and swallowing and show you various breastfeeding positions to find what’s most comfortable.
Though this is standard procedure, your consultation can always be fit to your unique needs. An IBCLCs role is to make sure to address any challenges or questions you may have. They can talk about how to alleviate any pain, manage an oversupply or build up a low supply. Many lactation consultants also have experience checking babies for tongue or lip ties and signs of reflux.
If you’re pumping, an IBCLC can even go over how to use your breast pump and check the fit of the flanges (yes, they come in different sizes!). At the end of the visit, they’ll collaborate with you to build a plan that works for you. Lactation consultants provide advice, recommendations and support based on your individual needs.
IBCLCs Can Address a Wide Range of Issues
Some of the most common issues consultants help moms with include: getting a good latch, confirming how much milk the baby is transferring, positioning, learning how to use nursing and pumping items, managing supply and preventing pain. IBCLCs are troubleshooters, myth-debunkers and cheerleaders. After an initial visit, many lactation consultants will also provide ongoing support via phone or email and can do follow-up visits.
Your Insurance May Cover Lactation Consultant Visits
Yes, really! It’s possible to have your lactation consultant visits covered by insurance. Check with your insurance provider or simply reach out to the team at the Lactation Network for help. They’ll confirm your insurance coverage, bill the provider directly, connect you with an IBCLC and set up a 90-minute in-home evaluation and consultation.
You’re Doing a Great Job!
The beginning of motherhood is a vulnerable time. During this time, lactation consultants really want to help make breastfeeding a positive experience. That means there’s no judgment about your choices, your body or your concerns! It’s OK to get emotional. It’s OK to be topless during your entire visit. It’s OK for your house to be a mess. We’ve seen it all and we want what’s best for you and baby. Period.
At Ashland Breast Pumps, we believe IBCLCs are valuable resources every mom deserves to have. You and your breastfeeding journey are important, and we want to support you every step of the way. Whether breastfeeding is going smoothly or serving up major challenges, don’t hesitate to reach out.