Lactation Consultants: What They Do and How They Help?

You may have heard the term ‘Lactation Consultant’ but be wondering what they do and how they can help you. A Lactation Consultant (LC) is a person that is an expert in all this breastfeeding. Not only do they teach you to breastfeed, they can also help improve the breast feeding experience for you and your baby,   and form part of a care team when looking after mothers or babies with complex needs.

LCs often have a career background in health, and specifically birth-related health. They will often have qualifications in midwifery, obstetrics and gynaecology, or be GPs, family health nurses, dieticians, or child-birth educators. A qualified LC needs to be an “Internationally Certified Lactation Consultant” (IBCLC). This certification is obtained through International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners.

While their practice mostly centres around all things breast feeding, they also act as an advocate for the breast feeding mother, particularly when there is a larger medical context around her care. They also lobby for breast feeding acceptance at a broader society level and work towards supporting all women to breast feed for as long as possible.

How Can a Lactation Consultant Help Me

First and foremost, an LC will aim to establish successful breastfeeding for you and your baby. They will work to remove obstacles to breastfeeding and help you navigate the early days of feeding. While breastfeeding is natural, it can be difficult and it is a skill that needs to be learned. Lactation Consultants help women learn this valuable skill.

They can help you when breastfeeding problems arise including with the most common issues such problems with latching on, pain when feeding, and low milk supply. They also help with providing advice and guidance when circumstances make breastfeeding difficult, and with conditions related to breast feeding such as mastitis, blocked ducts or nipple thrush.

Where Can I Find a Lactation Consultant?

The best place to start is the hospital you gave birth in. If they do not have their own LC on staff, most maternity hospitals will provide you with a list of independent LCs. It is important that you verify their qualifications and make sure they have IBCLC listed as their qualification.

Other resources that may help you locate an LC are:

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