What is a lactation consultant? In simple terms, a trained professional who helps a mother breastfeed.
The official title of a lactation consultant is IBCLC. This stands for ‘International Board Certified Lactation Consultant’. In order to earn this title, a person needs to obtain in-depth education, have a minimum of 500 hours of hands-on experience with breastfeeding mothers, and take an international exam which is given around the world during the same few days each year. Before a mother even sees an IBCLC, the IBCLC has already seen hundreds of other babies and mothers and some with the same exact issue that you might be having.
While a person does not need a background in healthcare to become an IBCLC, it helps to have that additional knowledge to evaluate a mother and her baby as a whole. These professionals are aware of so many factors that can affect breastfeeding. They may also be more in tune with a ‘problem’ that is actually not breastfeeding related at all.
IBCLCs assist mothers in the breastfeeding process with their knowledge of breastfeeding and lactation.
Some examples of topics that IBCLCs are educated in include:
- How breast milk is produced
- How it is maintained
- Maternal and infant anatomy and physiology
- Hormones and their effect on breastfeeding
- Pumping and storing milk.
Even though there are many types of breastfeeding educators, not all have the in depth training on these topics like IBCLCs.
Seeking help from an IBCLC does not mean you are not a ‘supermom’. In fact, seeing an IBCLC means you know what resources are available to you to help you and your little one which in fact DOES make you a supermom! There is never any harm in speaking with an IBCLC.
Seeing an IBCLC early on can save a mother and her baby pain and frustration. A latch that is not perfect can end up leaving a mother’s nipples damaged and in pain. This can also leave the baby frustrated from less than superior milk transition.
You have probably heard at least one person say “I could never breastfeed” or “I never produced enough milk”. The reality is there are only a small percentage of women that cannot breastfeed or produce enough milk to sustain their baby’s growth. With the help of an IBCLC, your situation can be evaluated and with some tips and tricks breastfeeding may be a possibility when you thought it was not.
The Care Connection Lactation and Wellness Center has many IBCLCs on staff, all of which are registered nurses. If you have any questions about breastfeeding or need someone on one help, don’t hesitate to give our office a call at 716.725.6370.
Written By: Christie Davis, RN, IBCLC