You want to do the best for your newborn, and breastfeeding is clearly a strong choice for the health of both you and baby. Babies benefit in so many health aspects including brain function, improved immunities, less gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea, and constipation, fewer allergies, and less risk of respiratory problems. For the mother breastfeeding aids in weight loss, lessens the risk of postpartum depression, reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and, of course, is portable and convenient, and saves money.
Difficulties can, and often do, arise with first-time mothers figuring out positioning, latching, milk production, painful feedings, and nipple care. The stress of wanting to get it right, meet the expectations of others, or feel inadequate or guilty if you are having difficulty with the process, can actually exacerbate the situation. A baby can sense your tension at time of feeding. A breastfeeding consultant can be the solution for information, instruction, and encouragement.
Breastfeeding consultants are typically Registered Nurses, or certified consultants through a professional organization. They respect and work with the parents to work through individual situations.
Be aware that the choice is yours to breastfeed. Mothers may be uncomfortable feeding in public, returning early to work, or taking medications that can interfere with breastfeeding, for example. Or you may have personal reasons why it is not right for you. But if you choose to breastfeed do some research, if you can, before you give birth. You will be relieved to have a list of potential contacts on hand and can act quickly to engage a breastfeeding consultant to prevent stress, frustration, or giving up. But don’t think you have to have a problem to call in a consultation. “In two separate trials, researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University followed a total of 941 women for six months after giving birth, and found that those who regularly received breastfeeding instructions and support from a lactation consultant were about four times more likely to exclusively breastfeed their infant at one month and nearly three times more likely to do so at three months, as compared to women who didn’t receive any support.”
Visits in your home provide a relaxed, natural atmosphere for a consultant to assess positioning of baby, comfort of mother, and overall sense of the environment to provide the best advice. Often simple processes like latching and positioning can be remedied rather quickly, but there is a much larger scope of reassurance in areas such as cues for feeding, monitoring weight gain, knowing if baby has had enough to eat, and how often to expect to feed and perform diaper changes. This advice is often as important as the mechanics in the mother’s comfort to breastfeed.
A breastfeeding consultant also addresses the mother’s health in working out her sleep schedules around the baby, and discussing diet and supplements to best benefit both the baby and mother. The relationship between mother and baby is so closely linked that alcohol, prescriptions drugs, and even allergens, like dairy, can be passed directly to baby. Consultants are knowledgeable, but respectful in their approach to address each individual situation. They will offer advice even if you choose to bottle feed with infant formula, or hire a wet nurse. Personal mother’s care also includes how to care for sore, cracked nipples and engorged breasts.
..those who regularly received breastfeeding instructions and support from a lactation consultant were about four times more likely to exclusively breastfeed their infant at one month and nearly three times more likely to do so at three months,..
And breastfeeding doesn’t just end with the immediate health needs of mother and baby. A properly trained breastfeeding consultant can also help with techniques to increase milk production, and provide tips on hand expressing, options to purchase or buy breast pumps, how to use them, and how to handle and store breast milk. Often pumping and storing milk helps to provide a new mom some rest through the night when her partner or night nurse may take a feeding, and to prepare for the eventual separation of mother and child when bottle feeding is necessary due to travel, work, or even emergency. This is also helpful if a night nurse or baby care specialist is hired.
A breastfeeding consultant provides such an important role in the bonding between mother and baby with the benefit of relieving stresses related to confidence, physical barriers, and lack of knowledge. Make a breastfeeding consultant part of your pregnancy planning.