Pregnancy and Childbirth What Is a Lactation Consultant, and How Do I Enlist One? By UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, August 15, 2017 As natural as breastfeeding may be, it is also something both mother and baby need to learn. When nursing is a challenge, hungry babies and tired moms need somewhere to turn for encouragement, education, assistance, and support. It’s time to bring in a lactation consultant.But what is a lactation consultant? A lactation consultant is a trained professional specialized in breastfeeding. They can answer questions, educate, encourage, and help tackle breastfeeding issues. They earn certification through the International Board of Certified Lactation Consultants. Then, they work in conjunction with your health care team. The best part? They can start helping you before challenges even arise. RELATED: What New Moms Need to Learn About Breastfeeding Meeting Your Lactation Consultant Lactation consultants are professionals that work side-by-side with your postpartum care nurses in recovery. Your lactation consultant will listen, watch, inform, and encourage you on your breastfeeding journey. Many new moms meet their lactation consultant right after labor and delivery. Your doctor, however, can help you find a lactation specialist before your baby even arrives. Reach out to our supportive caregivers at the Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC to connect with lactation professionals. Plan for Possibilities: Creating Your Lactation Plan Before birth, a lactation consultant can help you develop your breastfeeding plan. This plan outlines your intentions for feeding your newborn. It includes your flexible expectations and lists breastfeeding support phone numbers. Labor can be both exhausting and exhilarating. Having a plan ensures your care team can best support your intentions. For first time mothers, breastfeeding can seem overwhelming. A lactation consultant takes the mystery out of the learning process. The result is often a boost in confidence and a smoother transition home with your baby. Reach out to our supportive caregivers at the Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC to connect with lactation professionals. Call for Help: When to Call Your Lactation Consultant Envision the day after baby’s arrival. How do you know when to contact a lactation consultant? Start with a self-check. Some key concerns include: Breast pain and/or tenderness Damaged or sore nipples Low milk supply Ineffective latching Inadequate infant weight gain Infant fussy at the breast Lactation consultants can also assist with special circumstances such as inverted nipples, premature births, nursing after breast surgery, or the need to re-initiate lactation. How a Lactation Consultant Can Help You It’s important to deal with breastfeeding obstacles quickly, both for the comfort of the mother and the nutrition needs of the infant. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 81 percent of babies start out being breastfed, but only 22 percent are still exclusively breastfed at six months of age. The common denominator for success is the support a nursing mom receives. How can you sustain breastfeeding? A recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health documented that access to a lactation consultant increases long-term breastfeeding success. Having a knowledgeable, supportive advocate can make all the difference.