Why Would Anyone Hire a Lactation Consultant? Isn’t Breastfeeding Natural?
This very question has been posed to me many times since my journey as a lactation consultant began. There are many reasons why a mother might need a lactation consultant. A lactation consultant can help problem-solve breastfeeding challenges such as; low milk supply, nipple/ breast pain, poor latch, a non-latching baby, premature baby’s feeding difficulties, breastfeeding multiples, poor weight gain, colic, as well as induced lactation for adoption. A lactation consultant works closely with the mother and family to identify the problem, and develop a plan that suits the needs and goals of the breastfeeding relationship.
According to Statistics Canada, in 2011- 2012, the majority of women (89%) initiated breastfeeding shortly after birth; however, by 6 months only 26% were exclusively breastfeeding their babies. If breastfeeding were so natural, why did Statistics Canada report that the most common reason for stopping breastfeeding before six months was “not enough breast milk” and “difficulty with breastfeeding technique”? (Gionet, 2012) The World Health Organization and the Canadian Paediatric Association both support exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months of age with continued breastfeeding and solid foods up two years and beyond.
We no longer live in a society where breastfeeding is culturally everywhere and our womanly support live in close proximity to us. Our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters and friends may never have breastfed. We lack the community spirit that gathers around a new mother and baby and encourages a period of resting indoors in bed allowing for bonding with baby. Our cesarean rates, induction rates and premature births are elevated. We birth at a hospital with procedures and rules. We are sent home 24-48 hours later and left to figure things out on our own.
Breastfeeding can be difficult, challenging, exhausting, and frustrating. It can also be calming, rewarding, fulfilling, and restful. With the right support in place from peers, family, significant others and trained professionals, breastfeeding can work in a mutually enjoyable relationship for mother and baby.
Mothers spend a lot of time preparing for baby’s arrival and baby’s birth. They spend countless hours decorating the nursery and shopping for strollers, car seats, blankets, toys, chair, mats and clothes. Mothers often register for a pre-natal birthing class to prepare for labour and childbirth; however, mothers often neglect to prepare for breastfeeding thinking breastfeeding will undoubtedly come naturally. They forget to plan for one of the biggest and most time-committed events of having a baby: feeding them. Preparing to breastfeed is an important part of preparing for baby’s arrival. Attending a breastfeeding education class, hiring a private lactation consultant to come to the house after baby’s birth, and knowing community support groups is all part of planning for baby’s arrival. A lactation consultant is a wealth of knowledge about infant feeding and can help mothers and babies enjoy a wonderful breastfeeding relationship.
Lactation consultants (IBCLCs) are internationally trained and certified to help with breastfeeding challenges. If you would like to learn more about our Lactation Consultants you can visit our the following pages Lactation Consultants & Breastfeeding Support or Prenatal Breastfeeding Classes.
All of our services are provided in the privacy and comfort of your own home as we appreciate how it benefits you as an expectant Mom and even more so with a new baby at home when you encounter breastfeeding difficulties.
Thank you to Caitlin for her expertise and time in writing this article for us.
Gionet, Linda. Statistics Canada, Catalogue. # 82-624-X