Breastfeeding can be tricky to get the hang of.
It can sometimes take a number of weeks until things feel like they have fallen into place.
It’s not uncommon to worry about whether you have enough milk for your baby or to have some nipple pain (especially in the early weeks).
Even once breastfeeding is going well, it’s still possible to come across some challenges. For example, it’s not uncommon to feel pressure to wean before you’re ready or to start solids before your baby is ready to.
Indeed, there can be multiple points throughout your breastfeeding journey where you feel confused about what to do.
Fortunately, when faced with various breastfeeding challenges, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) can help.
6 Signs You Need To See An IBCLC
Here are 6 signs you need to see an IBCLC ASAP:
#1: You Think You Aren’t Making Enough Milk
Many mothers worry if they’re making enough milk. Most of the time, when a mother worries about this, she actually is making enough but just perceives she isn’t because she is relying on the unreliable signs to determine this. This is why it’s important to determine if your baby is getting enough/you’re making enough by looking at the reliable signs (your baby’s growth, and dirty and wet nappies).
If your baby happens to not be showing reliable signs of getting enough milk, there are many possible causes. For example, it may be that you have enough milk but that your baby isn’t removing it well enough (e.g. due to a tongue-tie). Or it could be a breastfeeding management issue (e.g. insufficient number of breastfeeds) or it could be a primary low milk supply issue (e.g. due to breast reduction surgery).
An IBCLC can help you work out what might be going on and hence work out the best way to tackle it.
#2: You Have Sore Nipples
Sore nipples are probably the most common challenge faced by breastfeeding mothers in the early weeks.
An IBCLC can help you work out what might be the cause of your sore nipples, then can help work out what might be the best way to go about fixing the problem.
#3: You're Confused About What To Do
Like with learning any new skill, it can take some time to the hang of breastfeeding. To make things harder, one of the most difficult things for many new parents is the conflicting advice they receive about breastfeeding. This can make it even more confusing about what might be best to do about a breastfeeding challenge you may be facing.
Since IBCLCs have received, by far, the most training in breastfeeding compared to other healthcare professionals, you can be assured that seeing one of them can make it much more likely you’ll be able better conquer the breastfeeding challenge you’re facing.
#4: You're Feeling Pressure To Wean Before You Want To
For many breastfeeding challenges, well-meaning friends, family or even some health professionals may suggest formula as the ‘solution’. If this is what you want, that may be a great suggestion. However, if it’s suggested and you don’t want to wean, it may be the worst suggestion.
For most breastfeeding challenges, there are many ways to tackle them without the need for formula.
An IBCLC can meet you where you’re at, and help you to work out ways to tackle a breastfeeding challenge that work best for you.
#5: You’re Feeling Pressure To Begin Solids Before Your Baby Is Ready
National infant feeding recommendations make it clear for solids to be introduced around 6 months. In Australia, this recommendation has been this way since 2003.
Nonetheless, there still seems to be a misunderstanding about these recommendations, with some still recommending solids to be introduced between 4 and 6 months.
You can read more about this here.
If you’re feeling pressure to start solids before you feel your baby is ready, IBCLCs are well placed to be able to support you and provide you with up-to-date and evidence based information.
#6: Your Baby Is Fussy With Feeds
A baby may be deemed ‘fussy’ with feeds if he comes on/off the breast crying and arching his back. His fussing may be so bad at some feeds that he refuses to feed. There are many reasons why a baby may be fussy with feeds. For example, babies are often fussy with feeds when the weather is hot, when he is overtired etc. Or, it may be that you have an overactive let-down reflex or your baby might have a tongue-tie.
An IBCLC can help you work out why your baby might be fussy with feeds and work out ways to help you manage it.
Whenever you see an IBCLC, you can feel a high degree of confidence that you will be provided with up-to-date and evidence-based infant feeding information in a supportive manner. Provision of unconditional positive regard and empathy are also important to help you feel confident and supported regardless of your infant feeding decisions.