If you’re about to have a baby as a first-time parent, you likely have many things on your mind. You may be assembling the nursery, balancing work tasks, and thinking about your birth plan.
After the baby is born, you’ll likely feel a lot of love and happiness, but it can also be challenging to recover and find the support you need while postpartum as a new lactating parent.
One resource many postpartum parents forget about is lactation consultants or IBCLCs. These trained healthcare professionals make breastfeeding more accessible and can help you with various issues.
Learn more about what a lactation consultant does and how they can assist you as a new parent below.
What Is A Lactation Consultant?
Lactation consultants, or International Board Certified Lactation Consultants, are crucial members of the support team for lactating parents. To become IBCLC certified, individuals have to complete specialized training and certification. Through this training, lactation consultants learn to provide support and advice to breastfeeding parents.
These trained professionals can assist with issues such as painful symptoms of breastfeeding, mastitis, milk supply concerns, and much more.
Usually, parents request help from lactation consultants in the first few weeks following their baby’s birth. IBCLC professionals are a great help to first-time parents, surrogate parents, and even parents who already have many children.
Do I Really Need A Lactation Consultant?
Breastfeeding is a personal choice for parents. Still, even postpartum parents who wish to breastfeed may feel they can’t continue if they have milk supply issues or nipple pain.
A lactation consultant can help resolve issues to ensure lactating parents feel comfortable while breastfeeding and that babies get the nutrition they need.
Even postpartum parents who don’t want to breastfeed can benefit from the assistance of an IBCLC. These lactation consultants can help with pumping breast milk or weaning once the baby gets older.
What Training Do IBCLCs Receive?
Many other healthcare professionals, such as midwives, nurses, and specialists, have training in lactation, so they can also be good resources. While various healthcare experts can provide lactation training or advice, a board-certified lactation consultant is a specific designation.
Lactation consultants are specialists specifically trained to help parents, and they must meet certain standards.
The International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBCLC) is responsible for setting and maintaining these standards. To become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, an individual has to:
- Finish 90 hours of education related to breastfeeding, nutrition, and anatomy
- Undergo 1,000 hours of clinical experience related to location
- Pass an exam
- Receive continuing education hours every year
- Become recertified once every five years
What Specific Things Can A Lactation Consultant Assist With?
Breastfeeding can bring about many challenges, physical and emotional. A board-certified lactation consultant can provide support through these changes and issues.
Overall, there are many reasons to set up an appointment with an IBCLC, including:
- Problems with mastitis
- Issues with painful nipples
- Concerns about milk supply
- Difficulties getting your child to latch
- Assistance finding nursing positions
- Help with the transition to bottle-feeding
What Can A Lactation Consultant Teach Me?
Because IBCLCs have specific training in lactation, they are an excellent resource and can answer most questions related to breastfeeding.
They are there to teach many things, depending on your specific circumstances and breastfeeding experience. Some of the many things they can help you learn include:
- Tips for increasing or maintaining milk supply
- How to recognize your baby’s hunger cues
- Help with setting up a feeding schedule
- Treatment for breast or nipple pain
- Assistance with a breast pump
If you are a breastfeeding parent, working with an IBCLC can bring encouragement and comfort. Many IBCLC services and providers are covered by insurance, so don’t hesitate to reach out for help. You can visit a lactation consultant via the office or in the comfort of your own home via telehealth. Check with your insurance today.