What to Expect from a Lactation Consultant

by Megan Mangiaracino

What to Expect from a Lactation Consultant

Whether you’re considering utilizing the support of a lactation consultant in the future, or you are currently experiencing difficulty with breastfeeding, there might be hesitation or uncertainty. What does a lactation consultant do and how can they help you? Here at Baby Boldly we asked a Certified Lactation Consultant (CLC) what to expect when utilizing the services of a lactation consultant, and here’s what she said:

Free Support

Before I get started, it should be said that there are many effective local lactation support groups offered at no cost. Group support can be found at delivery locations such as hospitals or birthing centers; others are held weekly at various community venues through groups such as the La Leche League. These groups are great ways to gain support from IBCLCs (International Board Certified Lactation Consultants), CLCs (Certified Lactation Consultants), as well as other mothers, and should not be overlooked as a fabulous option.

When to Utilize a Lactation Consultant

A lactation consultant can be helpful even before the birth of your baby. Often they offer initial consultations to discuss maternal history and breastfeeding or dual mode feeding plans to biological and adoptive parents. They also typically have great resources and research-based information to pass along which can be useful given some of the less-than-current feeding recommendations often provided to parents (and I’ve heard a ton).

After your baby arrives, consultation and continued support can be incredibly beneficial; remember babies are learning to eat. They are born with helpful reflexes, just as a mother has irreplaceable intuition, but it’s still a learning curve. I recommend this to be done within the first week of hospital discharge, and, if at all possible, before there is an emerging or ongoing issue. In my opinion, this would be the ideal situation.

I have heard many mothers express that it’s nice to already have a familiar contact for such moments, or that they wish they knew who to call that night when they weren’t sure if a feeding behavior was ‘normal’. This may be as simple as having the contact information of who you would call should you need something.

What’s In a Home Visit

If, or when, you and your baby decide a consultation is right for you, a typical home visit often includes:

  • parent interview,
  • infant oral mechanism exam,
  • infant weight check,
  • observation and evaluation of a feeding,
  • trial of strategies (if warranted),
  • a summary sheet of the findings, and
  • a written plan. Sometimes the plan can include a referral to another specialist.

On-going Support

Once a plan is established, follow-up would be provided. A large part of a lactation consultant’s job is providing honest, up-to-date information and support; NOT to talk a parent into choosing a certain type of feeding plan. General support by a CLC or IBCLC may be provided in-person, over the phone, or via email correspondence throughout your baby’s feeding adventure and through weaning; however, I do strongly recommend an in-person evaluation whenever a family has concerns as many important details can be missed over the phone.

Guest blog post written by: Barbara Hancock, M.A. CCC-SLP, CLC, CBS

Barbara is a speech-language pathologist for a pediatric hospital where she primarily treats infants and children with feeding disorders. This career choice makes sense, because for her, food is one of the best simple pleasures, medicine, and promoter of social connectivity available. She believes that feeding a child is more than just calories and that those connected moments stay with us forever. She strives to provide research and facts regarding the gold standard, but never chooses for a family because the parents always knows their child best (even on day one).

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