Lactation Consultants (LCs) offer specialist assistance and work with women with both common and the more unusual breastfeeding concerns.
They also teach the art of breastfeeding, assist mothers to develop and improve their mothering skills and provide an ongoing support for them.
A lactation consultant can also liaise with other health professionals to help women or their babies with complications related to the birth, with underlying medical complications or other complex situations.
Who Is A Lactation Consultant?
Many are employed as midwives, neonatal nurses, or child, family health nurses, dieticians, medical officers or childbirth educator. Others work as breast feeding counsellors in the Australian Breastfeeding Association. Some will be involved in teaching hospitals, in Day Stay Units or Parenting Residential Units.
There are many who work in private practice as well.
How Does A Lactation Consultant Obtain Their Qualification?
An ICBLC, or Internationally Certified Lactation Consultant, has proven to the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners that they have both clinical expertise lactation related to breastfeeding mothers and their babies and expert understanding of human lactation. For further information on this qualification go to http://www.iblce.edu.au.
Do They Do More Than Help With Breastfeeding?
A lactation consultant frequently act as the breastfeeding woman and her baby's advocate in liaison with other health professionals such as GPs, for example in clarifying advice about medical treatment while breastfeeding.
They also lobby for the creation of a society in which breastfeeding is accepted as the normal and preferred method of nourishing babies and young children.
When should you call a Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)?
- Are experiencing pain while breastfeeding
- Have damaged nipples that are not improving
- Are having difficulty with your baby waking for feeds
- Find your baby is not gaining weight well
- Feel your milk supply is low
- Think you have too much milk
- Suspect that you have a blocked duct or mastitis
- (Or your baby) show signs of thrush or you have an infection of your nipples
- Are concerned about medications/drugs and breastfeeding
- Are pregnant and have concerns about your ability to breastfeed this baby/ these babies
- Have a medical condition or surgical condition that may make breastfeeding more challenging
- Need help with weaning
- Need help with returning to work
If your baby:
- Breastfeeds less than six times in 24 hours in the first four to six weeks
- Is not wetting at least six nappies a day especially in the first six weeks
- Is frequently difficult to wake for feeds
- Is not gaining weight well
- Show signs of thrush
- Seems unhappy at your breast or refuses to breastfeed
- Has a medical or surgical problem that is impacting on the baby's ability to feed
- Anytime you have questions about any aspect of breastfeeding or simply wish to clarify things
– You require information about breastfeeding equipment such as breast pumps and other supplies that are helpful to breastfeeding mothers and infants.
How Do I Find A Lactation Consultant?
Lactation consultants will have the credentials IBCLC after her name. To find a lactation consultant in your community, talk to your childbirth educator, health-care provider, or maternity hospital. The Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) may also be able to refer you to a lactation consultant.
Another way to find a lactation consultant is to contact the Australian Lactation Consultant Association (ALCA).
In summary: Lactation Consultants give information and practical help to mothers at any stage in the breastfeeding process, in order to prevent or solve difficulties and to make the experience as enjoyable as possible. Lactation Consultants challenge and strive to remove the many obstacles which stand in the way of this goal.