One of my favorite parts of pregnancy was hearing the stories other women shared with me. Sometimes those stories were laden with sage advice, passed on from one generation to another. And when it comes to breastfeeding, there is no shortage of advice dished out to new parents! Relatives, friends, doctors, and pins saved to your Pinterest baby board- who should you turn to when questions about breastfeeding arise?
Your chosen healthcare providers train hard to provide the best care to you and your baby. But when it comes to breastfeeding difficulties, some families are dismayed when their pediatricians do not give much guidance to solve their problems. If they are experts on your child’s health, why would this be? For one thing, medical school for pediatricians is a grueling 8-9 years- there is a lot to learn during that time and breastfeeding is only discussed for about half of one day.
International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) are the gold standard for breastfeeding care. IBCLCs obtain specialized breastfeeding training and lactation education and must fulfill rigorous prerequisites before sitting for a comprehensive exam through the IBLCE. As an IBCLC, I have devoted thousands of hours of work and education to breastfeeding alone! The IBCLC works as a member of your healthcare team to provide the very best breastfeeding support.
Breastfeeding support groups and meet-ups are a great way to connect with other parents. Mother-to-mother peer counselors through LLL and WIC, as well as those who have taken a course in breastfeeding management, are invaluable to the community. But, "These support personnel should not be used to replace the expertise of an IBCLC." (Position Paper on the Role and Impact of the IBCLC, ILCA).
Let’s say you are worried about low milk supply. Seeking help from others who can empathize is great! Seeking guidance from an IBCLC in addition is wise, as we can get to the root of the matter and offer a tailored care plan that leads you to meeting your breastfeeding goals.
Oh, and as for those breastfeeding articles on Pinterest? Feel free to skip those that tell you to do X, Y, Z and breastfeeding will go perfectly. The lactation cookie recipes are tasty, but they are not a magic fix. We can chat about that next time.
Written by JoEllen Noble: IBCLC, Birth and Postpartum Doula at Doulas of Cincinnati