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  • Chicago Birthworks Collective

7 Signs It’s Time to See a Lactation Consultant

Lactation support is a crucial part of postpartum care.

In the early days and weeks after giving birth, you may run into some breastfeeding challenges or feel unsure about whether you’re doing things right. Maternal support and breastfeeding education are the most important steps to achieving breastfeeding success.

A lactation consultant can provide support and education, help troubleshoot breastfeeding problems and set you up for a positive breastfeeding journey. Here are some signs it may be time to connect with a lactation consultant.

Poor weight gain.

It’s one of the most common new-mom worries: Is my baby getting enough milk? If your baby loses more than 10 percent of their birth weight or is slow to gain weight in the first two weeks, your provider will likely recommend visiting a lactation consultant.

Your lactation consultant will gather information from you and do a weighted feed, weighing your baby before and after a feeding to determine how much milk they took in. She will also assess the latch, look for signs of swallowing while nursing and give you tips for keeping your baby awake and alert during feedings.

While on-demand breastfeeding is important, babies with poor weight gain may need to be fed more frequently or supplement nursing sessions with a bottle of breastmilk or formula. Your consultant can also help you with pumping or increasing milk supply if needed.

Painful latch.

If you are experiencing sore, cracked or bleeding nipples, know that it doesn’t have to be that way. While some sensitivity or discomfort is normal at first, a latch that’s too shallow or doesn’t allow your baby’s lips to turn out can contribute to significant pain and damage. It’s helpful to have a lactation consultant assess and correct your baby’s latch for your comfort and optimal milk transfer.

Breast or nipple infections.

Some breastfeeding mothers face painful breast or nipple infections, like mastitis and thrush. You can overcome these with treatment and support from your provider and a lactation consultant. If your supply has been affected, a lactation consultant can help you continue providing for your baby and find your way back to a full supply.

Fussiness at the breast or breastfeeding refusal.

When your baby is fussy at the breast, it can be frustrating and confusing. A lactation consultant can identify what’s going on — perhaps it’s a slow or overactive letdown, a latch or positioning that needs improvement or a case of infant reflux. Once you know the root of the issue, she will help you find a solution.

Clogged ducts, engorgement or overactive letdown.

If you are dealing with clogged milk ducts, engorgement or an overactive letdown, there are ways to find relief. Your lactation consultant can give you tips on how to prevent clogs and relieve discomfort. She can also show you different nursing positions to slow your letdown or find comfort while recovering from birth, especially if you have a C-section incision.

Preparing to go back to work or school.

When you’re going through a transition back to work or school, it can impact your breastfeeding. A lactation consultant can help you prepare and navigate these changes while maintaining your supply and breastfeeding relationship.

Infants with medical issues or special feeding needs.

Multiples or babies born premature, or those with medical issues such as jaundice, tongue or lip ties, cleft lip or cleft palate, can benefit from extra support for breastfeeding and pumping.

As many as 60 percent of mothers stop breastfeeding before they want to. Why do they stop? Surprisingly, it isn’t always because of breastfeeding problems or lack of knowledge. More often, it’s because moms don’t feel confident in breastfeeding. Support from your provider, your workplace, a lactation consultant and family members can make a difference.

Whether you’re a first-time mom or a fifth-time mom, asking for help can feel difficult. But lactation consultants are on your side. If you’re having trouble breastfeeding or just want to make sure you’re on the right track, a lactation consultant will give you valuable information, answer your questions, identify red flags and help you overcome challenges.

Need breastfeeding support? Connect with Chicago Birthworks Collective to schedule a consultation with one of our excellent lactation consultants.

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