Lactation Consultants (IBCLC): Milk Maids
Women are more likely to stop breastfeeding when they experience problems such as nipple damage, inadequate milk production (real or perceived), and infant feeding difficulties. An Independent Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) is the breastfeeding mama’s answer to a milk maid; with tricks up their sleeve to tackle the titfalls that can occur. Helping to tame the boobs, answer the tongue tie riddle, and check there is no catch with the latch! Providing the game plan to help a mama and her mini achieve their own breastfeeding goals.
In my opinion these milk maids are the best kept breastfeeding secret; that needs to change. Despite experiencing latch difficulties, dairy intolerance, reflux and supply issues with both my minis and tapping into a lot of support via midwives, breastfeeding groups, health visitors and the GP; not once was there mention of visiting a lactation consultant.
I found out about the existence of these boob whisperers via the mama grapevine, when I was four months in with my second and in a bit of a bind. But despite learning of their existence I failed to seek their expertise due to the breastfeeding support I had tapped into online for low milk supply. Ironically failing to reach my breastfeeding goals with number two led me straight into the arms of a lovely lactation consultant looking for support services tailored to those that had, in my own words; ‘failed’. Ultimately this lovely milk maid customised her own services offering me a debrief consultation to unpick my breastfeeding journeys. Helping to resolve the breastfeeding grief I was experiencing. We also made a practical plan for the event that I go in for round three!
Regardless of the type of birth we want, we normally spend time thinking about it, discussing it and the different options; where, how, who? With feeding we often hear ‘breast is best’ and may make a mental check to breastfeed once our mini makes their appearance, possibly purchasing a feeding bra or two in order to have the proper support. We treat labour like the end game; when in fact it is really the start. Labour can last days but if you want to breastfeed it will most likely last months. Our level of preparation for these two events, the first hurdles of motherhood outside the womb, seem a bit unbalanced? So how could or should we prepare for breastfeeding?
Some herald breast milk as liquid gold and if you want to breastfeed, lactation consultants are definitely worth their weight in gold, though not usually that expensive thankfully! A postnatal consultation with a lactation consultant will cost around £100. But I recommend getting abreast of the situation early, don’t wait until there is a problem. If you want to breastfeed don’t rely on that mini doing the ‘breast crawl’. Do your own boob research and book an antenatal consultation, these are typically a bit cheaper than the postnatal consultations. It will arm you with the knowledge and confidence to breastfeed and help you avoid and combat the titfalls you may encounter. Worst case you will be able to recognise the need for some extra help should that arise and know where to get it; forewarned is forearmed.
And if you are currently breastfeeding and experiencing difficulties don’t be put off because you feel you’ve made a boob of it by introducing a bottle, dummy or formula. If you want to get back to exclusive breastfeeding these people are your support bras and failing that, they should be able to aid successful combination feeding to allow you to protect your milk supply and breastfeeding relationship.
Anything to make breastfeeding feel less ‘dairy cow’ and more ‘milk maiden’ is worth a shot! Make no mistake, if I go in for round three, I’ll have mine on speed dial.