FAQs from the Lactation Consultant

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Mayne Photography

Q & A with Linda Hill, Lactation Consultant, Supporting Moms with Breastfeeding

Q: What advice do you have for a woman who is planning to nurse their baby?

A:  Take a breastfeeding class before delivering if you can so that you know what to look for in a good latch.  It is important to know when to ask for help!  It is important to know how to read the signs to know if your baby is getting enough!  Also, read a book about it!  I like The Nursing Mother’s Companion by Kathleen Huggins.  The electronic version of Baby 411 is good too as there are video clips you can watch that are helpful.  I like the book too.  And, lastly, have support lined up!  Your partner being the best support person, but it is also helpful to have some girlfriends who breastfed or are currently breastfeeding.  If you don’t have any of those – then find an Attachment Parenting group or a La Leche League group.

Q: What is the #1 nursing issue you see when women come to see you and what other issues do you see?

A:  The #1 reason for a visit to a lactation consultant (LC) is nipple soreness. It is normal to have nipple tenderness, especially in the beginning, but you shouldn’t have cracks or scabs. If you have those, something isn’t quite right. A LC can often tell what is going on just by how the nipple wound looks. When moms have linear scabs on their nipple, it is usually a positional problem. When the entire nipple is scabbed, it is commonly a tongue issue with the baby (e.g., tongue-tie, tongue sucking, or bunching up the tongue in the back of the mouth) or mom may have flat or inverted nipples.

  • All of these “problems” have “solutions”, some taking longer than others to fix. Lactation consultants have many tools to help moms thru these “problems”. There are nipple shields, supplemental nursing systems, pillows, nipple creams, gel pads, syringe feeding, pumping, bottle feeding, finger feeding, suck training and etc.

The #2 reason is perceived or actual low milk supply.

Don’t you wish you could hold your breast up to the light and see how full or how empty it was!

Though it is true that almost ALL moms can produce milk, not all moms can produce enough. And unfortunately, we can’t predict who will be able to and who wont, so you just try your hardest and see how things work out!

  • There are some “red flags” that lactation consultants cue into: no breasts growth or changes during pregnancy, hormonal issues that may have made it difficult to get pregnant, thyroid problems, diabetic moms, bariatric surgery, obesity, PCOS, breast surgery, chest trauma/surgery, advanced maternal age, abnormally shaped breasts, and large blood loss with delivery.
  • Just because a mom has one or more of these doesn’t mean she is going to have problems … but they often warrant a watch!

    Parents should take a breastfeeding class before their baby is born so that they can know how to tell if their baby is getting enough and know when to seek the help of their doctor or LC.
  • Again, LC’s have many tools to help moms increase their supply! There are improved techniques, hospital grade pumps, and herbs, to name a few.

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