As women wade through the first few, often foggy, weeks of motherhood, they face dozens of new challenges, and for many moms, nursing tops the list. From trouble latching, to sore nipples, to low milk supply, the issues can feel overwhelming. That’s where lactation consultants come in.
“The first two weeks are the hardest, and that’s why we’re here,” says Kelly Schellman, lactation consultant and nurse clinician. “It does get much easier — and it’s such a bonding experience, too.”
At our Family Birth Center, there is a lactation consultant available seven days a week for more complex breastfeeding issues, and the nursing staff has extensive breastfeeding training to assist with your breastfeeding needs at the bedside.
“The first few days can be a whirlwind of emotions, and lactation staff is here to ensure breastfeeding gets off to a good start,” says Stephanie Lilley, lactation consultant.
Lilley and Megan Burnam are lactation consultants who help mothers in the hospital after birth. Kelly Schellman is a lactation consultant available at our outpatient clinics and she see moms and babies after they’ve been discharged.
At South Providence Pediatrics clinic, lactation consultants see babies from 2 days old up to several months. They sit down with the moms and their babies for one-on-one, one-hour appointments and go through their problems: what’s the hardest thing they’re dealing with, and how can they help them. Then they watch a feeding, do pre- and post weights to show how much milk is transferring and talk about latch and milk supply. Often, they identify specific problems, but sometimes they’re just there to provide reassurance.
The issues that typically bring moms to the breastfeeding clinic are sore nipples and latch. Tongue-ties and milk supply, whether perceived or truly low, are common, too.
It’s a lot of problem solving: What is the problem? What is causing that problem? Then they go through different things moms can work on to make it better. For those types of issues, lactation consultants usually see the patients multiple times.
“By the time these moms come to see us, 99 percent of them are wanting our help,” Schellman adds. “They have already decided they want to breastfeed, but they’re struggling. And we want to give them the support they need.”
When to Visit a lactation consultant
Moms should seek help from a professional lactation consultant if they or their baby experience any of the following:
- Sore nipples. You shouldn’t be sore from nursing. You might be a little tender, but it shouldn’t hurt. There should be no cracks or blisters.
- Increased weight loss in baby. Most babies lose a percentage of weight after birth, but if it’s more than normal, an improper latch might be the problem. A lactation consultant can help make sure baby is latching OK and transferring OK.
- Medical history that mom might struggle with milk supply, struggled with a past baby or has history of breast surgeries or implants. It’s good to schedule an appointment in these cases just to make sure that mom and baby do OK. Of course, every baby is different, even between siblings, so struggling with nursing one baby doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll struggle with the next.
Resources for Moms
In addition to scheduling an appointment with an MU Health Care lactation consultant, nursing moms looking for advice can take advantage of numerous education opportunities and support groups.
There is a breastfeeding prenatal class that meets twice a month and is taught by certified IBCLC lactation consultants.
Tiger Tot Mommies meets twice a month (one daytime meeting and one evening meeting to accommodate varying schedules) to discuss topics of interest to moms of babies, such as baby care, infant care, development, baby yoga, infant massage and more.
There is always a lactation consultant available for additional help for moms, too. They can talk one on one, and there is a baby scale available if they want to track their baby’s weight from month to month.
For more on Breastfeeding Services at MU Health Care, click here. Click here to learn more about Tiger Tot Mommies. And to visit the Tiger Tot Mommies Facebook page, where women can reach out to other moms with questions and concerns, click here.
To sign up for the prenatal breastfeeding class, click here.