Lactation Consultants: Who are They & When Should I See One?
While some believe that breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world, it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Over 86% of newborn babies are breastfed, with that number falling to 57% after three months. Breastfeeding difficulties are challenging but not rare. Harbin Clinic’s team of pediatricians and lactation consultants are here to guide you through every step, so you and your baby feel comfortable and confident about your breastfeeding journey.
What is a Lactation Consultant?
A lactation consultant is a healthcare professional who specializes in breastfeeding to offer support, advice, and guidance to those who choose to breastfeed. The goal of lactation consultants is to ensure that the process is successful and comfortable for the mom and baby.
Lactation consultants see patients for several reasons, some of which are latching issues, sore or painful nipples, milk supply concerns, previous breastfeeding issues, infant weight loss, or pumping complications. You can also see a lactation consultant if you are expecting and are planning on breastfeeding. Lactation consultants are there to answer any and all of your questions about breastfeeding to put your mind at ease and be a pillar of support throughout the process.
“My job is to offer everything from advice to reassurance,” says Kathy Gnann, a pediatric nurse practitioner and a board-certified lactation consultant at Harbin Clinic Pediatrics Cartersville. “Sometimes I meet with mothers who have a specific issue they want advice on how to fix, and other times I meet with mothers who have questions or concerns they want to talk through. Either way, I try to identify what exactly the patient needs, whether it’s a step-by-step nursing approach or just some encouragement.”
During the appointment, your lactation consultant will observe you and your baby breastfeeding to identify the root of any problem. Then they will work with you to understand your goals and help you put together an individualized plan to reach them.
There isn’t one correct way to breastfeed. Every mom, parent, and baby has different needs and different goals. Whether your goal is to exclusively pump, breastfeed once a day, or help your child latch correctly, we’re here to help you reach that goal. At the end of the day, it’s about making sure mom and baby feel comfortable and at ease throughout the breastfeeding journey.
Common Breastfeeding Misconceptions
“There’s a lot of misinformation surrounding breastfeeding,” Gnann explains. “But we’re here to help patients decipher what’s a fact and what’s a myth.” Here are some of the most common misconceptions Gnann receives as a lactation consultant.
“It’s okay if it hurts.”
It’s not supposed to hurt when you breastfeed, so there could be an issue with how the baby is latching or the nursing position. “Many patients I talk to are under the impression that pain while breastfeeding is normal, which it’s not,” says Gnann. “Breastfeeding should be comfortable for you and your baby, and you should schedule an appointment with a lactation consultant if you feel any pain or discomfort.”
“My supply is low, so I’m unable to breastfeed.”
While you may not have enough of a supply to exclusively breastfeed your baby for the first six months, some breastmilk is better than none. “Many studies show that even a small amount of breastmilk can be beneficial for a baby,” explains Gnann. “It’s all about what you can do and what makes you comfortable. If that’s breastfeeding once a week and supplementing with formula for the remainder of the week, then that’s perfect as long as it works for you and your baby.”
At Harbin Clinic Pediatrics, our team of physicians, nurses, and lactation consultants are here to care for the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of their patients. To learn more about Harbin Clinic lactation services, visit our page here. Lactation consulting services in Cartersville are available at Harbin Clinic Pediatrics Cartersville. Harbin Clinic Pediatric offices also work alongside consultants at local hospitals. Contact their offices to learn more here.