Are you planning on breastfeeding, chestfeeding, or pumping milk for your newborn? Some families who want to body-feed their little ones can feel overwhelmed by all the information available and want guidance in figuring out what is right for them. To ensure that you have an expert in your corner regarding feeding your baby, we HIGHLY recommend hiring an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant). IBCLCs are not just lactation experts, they can help with all infant feeding needs!
Why They Are Important
When things go awry with feeding your baby, it is usually beyond the scope of the postpartum doula or newborn care specialist. This is why we recommend getting set up with an IBCLC in advance. “The importance of having a lactation consultant is knowing you have a lifeline. You have someone invested in your goals, and you get consistent support and information from a trusted source,” said Sondra Rodocker, an IBCLC with over 10 years of experience.
What Do They Do?
According to Sondra, your lactation consultant can help you have a basic understanding of what’s within the realm of normal when it comes to feeding your baby. They can quickly identify if you need any additional help or support in terms of supplementation or referrals to another provider for something beyond their scope. The majority of the time, consults are not overly complicated.
An IBCLC will help aide with good latches for those putting their baby to their breast/chest, positioning for feeding, pump fittings/how to use your pump, troubleshooting skills on newborn behavior to try and understand what your baby is telling you, how to collect/store milk, how much milk your baby/babies may need. “Essentially we are your mammary mechanic and will help you with whatever you need. We’re good listeners too, so we understand that sometimes you just need to be heard and validated and cheered for,” said Sondra.
Your lactation consultant will stay with your family for as long as you need. Generally, most issues can be resolved within 3-4 visits with your IBCLC. It is common to do a couple more follow-ups just to ensure you continue to thrive and feel confident in your ability to feed your baby. A good IBCLC will be willing to work with you anytime you need help or just reassurance that everything is going perfectly.
Finding An IBCLC
Here is what Sondra had to say about finding an IBCLC, “reach out to a couple of recommended IBCLCs in your area and read reviews on them. Email them or set up an interview call with them and ask key questions like, “what are your preferred hours to see patients, do you do home visits or clinic visits, do you provide telehealth, do you take insurance, what can I expect from our first visit once baby/babies arrive?” Doing this in advance will make sure that you have coverage for when it’s time to take the baby home.
What To Look For
When you hear back from an IBCLC, you want clear distinct responses vs. “oh, whatever you prefer”. Sondra went on to say, “it is important to be supportive of the patient’s needs, but a highly skilled IBCLC will be able to answer the above questions, so you don’t feel the pressure of figuring all these things out on your own. It’s our job to give you the options we have available so you can select what works for you. No need to make it complicated. If anyone makes you feel bad about any decisions you make, move on from them. They do not deserve to have the opportunity to steal your joy on this journey. Parenthood is not rooted in struggle, set yourself up for success and surround yourself with positive encouragement. You can also verify their certification in the public IBCLC registry here.”
Lastly, you should check with your insurance to see if an IBCLC is covered. It’s best to meet with them beforehand to see if you click and plan on having them come the first day home from the hospital! If you need help finding an IBCLC, we can help point you in the right direction. Otherwise, we recommend asking friends and family for a referral, as they often know best!