IBCLC stands for International Board Certified Lactation Consultant; in short, an expert on breastfeeding support. This could be a midwife, dietician, nurse, physician, or support counselors. Such individuals work in hospitals, small clinics, neonatal ICUs, or have their own private practice.
When mothers have trouble breastfeeding their babies for any reason, visiting an IBCLC should be the first step. The lactation consultant should be able to pinpoint the problem, suggest some solutions, and slowly guide both mother and baby to a comfortable breastfeeding experience.
Not sure when you should call an IBCLC? Here are a few scenarios that might clear things up.
1. Experiencing Pain
Breasts and nipples can be tender at the beginning of your breastfeeding journey. But that doesn’t mean gritting your teeth when it’s feeding time. If your nipples or breasts are painful, the baby might not be latching properly. The feeding position could be wrong, or there might be some other problem. A lactation consultant will be able to give you the relevant guidance about minimizing and avoiding this pain.
Engorged breasts might be a good sign; they mean that there’s more blood flow to this area. This factor contributes to a higher production of milk. However, it can also mean some pain and discomfort for the new mother. It’s normal for new mothers to give up breastfeeding but considering an IBCLC can change their mind.
Several reasons could be behind experiencing painful engorgement. A lactation consultant will be able to tell you what to do when it occurs, especially if the reason is a missed feeding, too much milk, early weaning, etc. Since engorgement can also result in a low fever and an infection such as mastitis, it’s essential to get help as soon as possible.
3. Anxiety about Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is a stressful practice for many mothers, and anxiety is normal in such cases. However, too much anxiety can result in low milk supply, depressive thoughts, and even postpartum depression.
Before the situation gets out of control, it’s best to reach out to a lactation consultant and get their guidance. They might not be mental health professionals, but they can do a latching check and assure you that everything is normal. When you get the confirmation about breastfeeding well, you’ll be able to do it with more confidence and hopefully less anxiety. The lowered stress level will provide an even better feeding environment for you and the baby.
4. Low Milk Supply
There’s no exact way to tell how much a baby is getting when they’re breastfeeding. If you think the baby still feels hungry after a feed, one of the reasons might be a low milk supply. The mother or those around her might consult a lactation expert for the purpose of increasing milk supply and improving the latching practice to encourage more production.
5. Special Needs
If an infant has special needs, an IBCLC should be on the scene at some point. Since these are experts in their field, they’ll be best equipped to guide the mother and baby with evidence-based education and experience. Such an expert will probably be helpful for helping to identify latching problems, setting pumping schedules, and so on.
Remember, IBCLCs have gone through a lot of study and examination to get their comprehensive knowledge about lactation. If the baby or mom is having trouble with breastfeeding, it may not be time to switch to formula just yet. Consult the relevant expert, take benefit from their guidance, and see what happens. Breastfeeding is no picnic, but it can be a healthy and rewarding experience as well. Consult one today and see the difference!