Breastfeeding consultant, who is this figure who helps the new mother to start off on the right foot with breastfeeding despite the first difficulties.
When a child is born, a mother is also born, it’s true, but things don’t always go as they should. The first few days are confused and hectic, often characterized by fatigue from childbirth. And it is breastfeeding that often suffers, because the baby does not always latch on easily and this can generate a lot of frustration in new mothers. In this sense, the breastfeeding consultant she is a true ally: a figure who supports and helps the mother in this adventure, approaching the experience of breastfeeding in the best possible way without worries and without complications. Who is this figure and how to look for one? How do you become a lactation consultant? Here are the answers to the most popular questions.
In this article
Breastfeeding consultant, who he is and what he does
The breastfeeding consultant is a figure who supports new mothers who start the adventure of breastfeeding, from its very early stages, when it is still in the hospital or even during the pre-birth course. There are different support figures based on the level of in-depth analysis and advice that the professional can provide: often the same midwives of the hospital where you are giving birth have a basic understanding of the subject and, while providing immediate help with breastfeeding positions and advice to recognize milk production, they cannot give long-term support to mothers.
When breastfeeding occurs with difficulty – the baby has difficulty latching on, the breast has a “difficult” anatomical conformation – then the figure of the breastfeeding consultant becomes ideal, not only for the start but also for the peaceful continuation of the experience . There are different types of advice and service, even online in times when it is not possible to meet in person: let’s clarify the various figures.
When to see a lactation consultant
The Breastfeeding Consultant can be consulted at any time during pregnancy, so you can get started with the basics. But then they will have to be put into practice with the child once he is born, so it is an articulated path that often moves in the long term.
- Pre-birth breastfeeding advice: provides support during pregnancy, also anticipating what could be problems related to the feeding of the child who is born with diseases such as cleft palate. Specialized midwives, Leche League consultants and IBCLCs (International Board Certified Lactation Consultants) often provide it.
- Postpartum breastfeeding advice: it is what can be requested in the hospital, at the birth of the baby, one of the most crucial moments for the new mother who approaches breastfeeding. In addition to the support with the start of breastfeeding in the delivery room, it is also proposed for the mother who is forced to separate from the newborn (for example in the case of premature babies). They are also a valid support for mothers of twins or for children born with rare diseases such as cleft lip and palate. Advice in this sense helps to prevent fissures but also to recognize and manage milk flow and to understand how to keep milk production active.
- Breastfeeding advice at home: it is the most interesting part of the counseling because it helps the mother to manage breastfeeding once back home. We explore the attacks and positions, we learn to evaluate the growth of the child and to solve problems such as fissures and traffic jams.
Precisely this last form of counseling becomes a valid support for mothers who have to return to work and do not know how to manage exclusive breastfeeding with the removal from the child; and also to follow the phases of weaning following the needs of the newborn, without forcing it or necessarily sacrificing breastfeeding.
Lactation consultants: who to contact
The consultants of the Leche League
La Leche League is perhaps one of the most famous breastfeeding networks in the world, which also in Italy has been supporting those who want to breastfeed for several years. These are mothers who were trained in breastfeeding perhaps after a pleasant initial experience and who return those same principles and advice to the community, in a virtuous circle of help. There are several ways of counseling, including online, which can help the mother to unblock the situation or simply understand how to approach breastfeeding. Whenever possible, Leche League consultants organize monthly meetings, workshops and other events all aimed at providing correct information on breastfeeding.
Leche League matches are free, but the association can be supported with a donation.
The professional breastfeeding consultants (IBCLC)
These certified figures (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) are professionals specialized in the clinical management of breastfeeding and human lactation who help mothers with breastfeeding, especially when they are unable to leave or there are objective difficulties that prevent it in the short term. term. They are a fundamental support, for example, in the case of premature babies who need different attention than babies born at full term; or in all those cases where breastfeeding is prevented by a clinical reason, which can be resolved with patience and discussion with a professional.
The cost of the service varies according to the professional and his time entity.
How to become a lactation consultant
In the philosophy of the Leche League, all women who have had experience with breastfeeding can become consultants, as long as they share the guidelines and approaches of the association. To become a Leche League consultant there are prerequisites that are also assessed in an internship period. Those who want to become a consultant of the LLI must evaluate the commitment a priori, as well as the intentions and closeness to the values of the League.
To become IBCLC, on the other hand, AICPAM coordinates the courses (also online) for all those who work daily in the field of care for mother-child couples, with a complete program that provides preparation for the IBLCE exam necessary to become a certified consultant. IBCLC. The courses have various degrees of difficulty based on the origin of the operator. The online one, as stated on the AICPAM website, costs 100 euros for each module of the BE basic course (there are several available); 60 euros for the course on ethics.All modules can be consulted at any time thanks to the e-learning method.
Finally, there are support groups organized by peer moms who are available to help new mothers with breastfeeding and who also offer the opportunity to join their network. The course is not professional but is based on the principle of community aimed at supporting mothers who want to breastfeed, in a relationship between equals.