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.
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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 UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital 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 UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital 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.
About UPMC Magee-Womens
Built upon our flagship, UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh, and its century-plus history of providing high-quality medical care for people at all stages of life, UPMC Magee-Womens is nationally renowned for its outstanding care for women and their families.
Our Magee-Womens network – from women’s imaging centers and specialty care to outpatient and hospital-based services – provides care throughout Pennsylvania, so the help you need is always close to home. More than 25,000 babies are born at our network hospitals each year, with 10,000 of those babies born at UPMC Magee in Pittsburgh, home to one of the largest NICUs in the country. The Department of Health and Human Services recognizes Magee in Pittsburgh as a National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health; U.S. News & World Report ranks Magee nationally in gynecology. The Magee-Womens Research Institute was the first and is the largest research institute in the U.S. devoted exclusively to women’s health and reproductive biology, with locations in Pittsburgh and Erie.