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  • Writer's pictureYour EmmaWell Team

Lactation Consultations - When and Why They Can Help

Updated: Jun 14, 2022

Did you know that most health insurance plans fully cover lactation services as a preventative benefit...and that you don’t even need to leave home to take advantage of this benefit? International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) can successfully support and resolve most common baby feeding issues through a tele-lactation consultation.

Find out when and why you might benefit from a lactation consultation throughout your breastfeeding journey.

During Pregnancy

If you are pregnant and considering breastfeeding but don’t know where to start, our Getting Started with Breastfeeding webinar is the perfect way to lay the groundwork for a successful breastfeeding experience. This introductory course gives expectant mothers an overview of the evidence-based benefits of breastfeeding, proper positioning, feeding cues, and tools for addressing common feeding challenges. Besides learning the fundamentals of successful breastfeeding, our webinar, led by the wonderful Boob Donna, is a FUN and INTERACTIVE way to spend an evening with your partner.

If you have personal questions or concerns beyond the basics, then a one-on-one lactation consultation might be a worthwhile to-do in your last trimester. You can discuss any pre-existing health conditions (e.g. breast cancer), previous surgeries (e.g. breast implants), and medication considerations with a trained professional prior to breastfeeding. During this consult, a lactation consultant will work with you (and your partner) to define your desired goals for feeding your baby and customize a plan for your unique situation. You can also review any prior challenges if you aren’t pregnant for the first time and decide on new strategies.

Within the First Two Weeks Postpartum

The first two weeks after giving birth are critical for establishing your milk supply and gaining confidence in your ability to breastfeed your baby. Making an appointment with a lactation consultant shortly after delivery is a smart idea to brush up on breastfeeding tips and techniques for a smooth start.

The IBCLC will discuss your support needs and develop a customized plan to ensure this new experience goes smoothly. Together, you will determine which holding position works best for you and your baby, how to achieve an effective latch and prevent pain, and how often you should feed your baby. Most importantly, you will understand what to expect from your baby and your body in the early weeks.

Two to Six Weeks Postpartum (Typically)

Switching from the breast to the bottle is an essential step in sharing feeding duties and preparing for a stretch of time away from your baby. This new experience for your baby frequently presents a new set of challenges. When you are ready to introduce your baby to a bottle of pumped breastmilk or infant formula, you might have a host of questions about how to proceed.

Scheduling a lactation consultation before your baby’s first bottle will sufficiently prepare you for the next step in your baby feeding journey. In addition to creating a customized plan for you, the IBCLC will educate you on effective pumping, proper fitting of the breast pump flange, cleaning your pump parts, and safely storing your breast milk. You can also ask the IBCLC specific questions about recommended bottle brands and different flow nipples. A lactation consult at this stage will ensure that your baby feeding goals and progress are aligned.

Four to Ten Weeks Postpartum

Leaving your baby in another’s care - no matter if it’s your partner, a grandparent, a nanny, or daycare - requires a great deal of planning and preparation. It can be extremely helpful to work with an IBCLC several weeks prior to establishing a new routine for your baby.

Having a lactation consultation before your baby adapts to a secondary caregiver will help you develop a transition plan customized to your situation. After discussing your timing and goals, the IBCLC will work with you to ensure your milk supply is sufficient and introduce a new daily schedule for you to rehearse prior to the transition. Whether you’re returning to work, going to school, or taking a trip, both you and your baby will be prepared for the disruption in routine and well-equipped for success in the long run.

Anytime Postpartum

Not every baby feeding journey follows a smooth path, and there are often bumps along the way. An IBCLC can not only guide you past any obstacles but also provide critical support when you are struggling and feel alone. You can reach out for help from an IBCLC at any point in your journey to troubleshoot feeding challenges.

As your baby grows and your breastfeeding schedule evolves, new concerns and challenges often arise. To name a few: your baby might be tongue-tied or have mouth problems, causing a poor latch; your breast(s) might become engorged overnight when your baby starts to sleep for longer stretches; your baby might experience nipple confusion after meeting a bottle; your breasts’ milk supply might not match your baby’s demand; and you might experience physiologic challenges, such as pain, clogged ducts, or mastitis. During a lactation consultation, the IBCLC will diagnose the root causes for your feeding challenge. You will work together to test possible solutions and develop a plan to set you on the right path.

With Warmth and Wellness,

Your EmmaWell Team

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