Lifestyle

Nipple Noobie? What a Lactation Consultant Is and How They Can Help

lactation consultant
Written by Stephanie McClane

The first couple of weeks of motherhood are a blur of diaper changes, no sleep, and spit up. Then throw in nipple soreness and issues with latching for breastfeeding moms. 

Yet, you’re not alone. As 92% of nursing mothers experience trouble with breastfeeding. 

It can be a stressful and overwhelming time for a new mom. As you learn the ropes of your babies eating, sleeping, and pooping habits. Support is only a phone call away, where all your nursing questions or concerns can get answered. 

Read on for how a lactation consultant can help you learn the ins and outs of breastfeeding. 

The Benefits of Breastfeeding  

77% of moms choose to breastfeed their babies. It’s a personal choice that offers a natural source of nourishment for their children. 

It provides newborns with the essential vitamins and nutrients needed for development. It can also help protect the baby from infections and diseases.  

Breastfeeding also benefits the mom, by burning extra calories. This helps new moms get back to their ideal pre-baby weight quicker. Nursing also releases happy hormones that can ward off post-partum depression

Breastmilk gets recommended by pediatricians for the first 6 months. Yet, many mothers choose to go beyond this, once they get the hang of it. 

It can be tough for new mothers to tackle and troubleshoot breastfeeding concerns. Issues like nipple confusion, low milk supply, and breast infection can occur. 

Without proper support, many women give up on their desire to breastfeed. This is why it’s helpful to turn to a lactation group or specialist for professional help. 

How a Lactation Consultant Can Help

First, you may be wondering what is a lactation consultant? They are a board-certified professional that is an expert in all things lactation. 

They help moms solve a variety of breastfeeding problems. They often work with new mothers but can also provide advice for any lactating mom. As your first child may take the breast well, while the second does not. 

Here is how a lactation consultant can help mothers who struggle with breastfeeding. 

Poor Latching and Positioning 

Breastfeeding your baby should never feel painful. A poor latch may cause pain or discomfort around the nipple and breast.

It can also lead to blisters or cracking nipples. If the baby’s latch does not get corrected early on, these issues can get worse with time.  

A consultant can work with you on proper latching and breastfeeding positions. They may recommend nursing pillows or nipple shields to help the problem. Lanolin ointment can also provide relief during the first few weeks.  

Problems with Milk Supply 

Many moms experience supply issues in the first couple of months. This can involve an overproduction or underproduction of milk. 

With a low milk supply, the baby may not be getting enough milk. This can lead to trouble with growth or possible dehydration. So, always pay attention to the baby’s diaper output while learning to breastfeed.   

Overproduction can make breastfeeding uncomfortable for the baby. As they often get too much milk too fast. This can cause them to pull off the breast and cry. 

Breast Infections and Discomfort 

Thrush and mastitis are common breast infections. They can occur in the early stages of breastfeeding. A lactation specialist can help identify these conditions and provide treatment options. 

Thrush gets caused by the growth of yeast in the baby’s mouth and mother’s breast. It can cause extreme or stabbing pain when breastfeeding. 

Mastitis gets caused by bacteria in the breast or not draining your milk ducts enough. The infected breast may become tender, red, or develop lumps. The mother may also experience flu-like symptoms. 

Extreme engorgement can also make it difficult for the baby to latch on the breast. It often helps to use a breast pump for a few seconds before feeding. This will relieve the pressure so the baby can latch better. 

Feeding Schedules and the Mother’s Diet 

Breastfeeding may not follow a strict schedule, as bottle feeding does. Since you never know how much milk your baby is getting. This leads many mothers to nurse on demand instead. 

Nursing on demand can be tricky at first. As you’ll need to pay close attention to hunger cues. This includes the baby putting their first in their mouth or sticking out their tongue. 

Cluster feeding is another overwhelming part of breastfeeding. The baby may feed for hours at a time. This is a sign of a growth spurt as they are trying to pump up your milk supply. 

Like the foods you should eat when pregnant, your diet can also affect breastfeeding. Certain foods can cause the baby to become gassy or throw up often. A special diet can help prevent a colicky baby. 

Other Breastfeeding Dilemmas 

Waiting for your milk to come in can also be stressful for a new mom. As you will only be producing colostrum for the first few days. Be sure to seek out support if you’re worried the baby is not getting enough milk. 

Teething can also make it a hassle to breastfeed. Babies will nurse more often as it comforts them. They may also bite or scrape their teeth on the nipple. 

Lactation specialists can also offer pumping techniques for mothers going back to work. They can provide the best times to pump to maintain your supply.   

What to Expect During a Lactation Consultant Home Visit? 

In-home visits with a lactation specialist often get recommended for new moms. This is ideal as the baby and mom get to stay at home, in a comfortable environment. 

So, what happens at a lactation consultant appointment? 

The specialist will plan to stop by at a convenient time. The best time is between a newborn’s many naps. This is so that they can experience one of the baby’s feedings. 

They will look to see how the baby latches. As well as your position and the nursing environment. They can show you massage techniques to relieve symptoms of engorgement or mastitis. 

A lactation consultant will also check for signs of tongue-tie. As this can cause a baby to have issues with breastfeeding. Your own nipple shape may also be interfering with the baby’s latch. 

Navigating the Many Wonders of Motherhood 

New moms have many resources available to tackle the ever-evolving roles of motherhood. Seek support from the hospital you gave birth in or new mom groups. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed, from friends, family, or a lactation consultant.

With motherhood comes many changes in the mind, body, and lifestyle. Here are more tips on getting rid of stretch marks and dealing with hair loss after pregnancy.

Remember, it’s all worth it, and you’ve got it under control!  

About the author

Stephanie McClane

Hi, I’m Stephanie. I graduated college with a business degree and a minor in biology. I met my husband at a business convention and was happily marriage and pregnant within the first two years after saying the words “ I do”.

Jennifer is the eldest of the three. Being pregnant with her, my first, I researched everything pregnancy related and read nearly every book. Giving birth to Anthony and Matty seemed more natural and less stressful the third time around.

I’m happy to share what knowledge I have gathered and learn new things from other mothers. From morning sickness to Anencephaly, or potty training to thumb sucking, I have books and resource guides to share.