When I was expecting my first son, I knew I wanted to breastfeed him. I was one of my first friends to have a baby, so I hadn’t exactly been around many nursing moms or gotten much advice, but I figured women had been feeding their babies this way since the beginning of time so obviously it would all be fine.
As soon as my son was born, we got down to the business of nursing…and it was…well, not exactly the picture of maternal bliss I had been expecting. A thousand thoughts rushed through my head: Am I doing this right? Is it supposed to feel like that? Am I going to drop him? Is he getting enough? Is he going to rip off my nipple, because it is kind of starting to feel like that is a real possibility here people.
After a few days of nursing and worrying, I did the only logical thing and reached for my phone in the middle of the night to consult Dr. Google. It turns out that the very last thing you want to do when exhausted, hormonal and worried is ask the internet if what you are experiencing is normal. The onslaught of varied opinions and advice put me over the edge and I decided it was time to get some real help. But what kind of help did I need and where was I going to find that help? Back to Google again. A search for “lactation support NYC” brings in a whopping 1 million hits. It seemed impossible to decipher what kind of doctor/consultant/support group would provide the help I so desperately needed.
Through the help of friends, I was eventually connected with a wonderful lactation consultant who was able to help me address some of my breastfeeding challenges and eventually build a beautiful breastfeeding relationship with my son. A few years later after the birth of my second son, I decided that I wanted to be able to help other moms with breastfeeding questions and did the work to become a lactation consultant myself.
While many moms will have a great breastfeeding experience with little to no help, it is perfectly normal for a mom to feel unsure about breastfeeding and need some help to work through any problems that might come up while she and her baby are learning to breastfeed.
So where can a new mom go to get help with breastfeeding?
A “Lactation Consultant”
Many moms turn to a lactation consultant for help with their nursing problems, but what exactly is a lactation consultant? There are many different credentials that enable someone to call themselves a “lactation consultant” but the two main titles are an IBCLC and a CLC. An IBCLC is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and professionals who hold this credential are health care professionals with significant clinical experience who have passed a rigorous board certifying examination. IBCLCs specialize in the clinical management of breastfeeding and qualified to provide a wide range of care to breastfeeding mothers and babies. A CLC is a Certified Lactation Counselor which is a credential given to individuals who have completed a 45 hour training course and completed a certifying exam. A CLC is also qualified to provide advice and care to nursing mothers but may have a less intensive health care background. Both types of consultants are wonderful resources and can provide a wide variety of support to nursing moms; from helping to establish a good latch, trouble shooting problems with pain and advising moms through difficult nursing situations such as breastfeeding multiples or children with illnesses or disabilities.
A home visit from a lactation consultant can cost anywhere between $100-300 an hour and while few professionals take insurance directly, it is usually possible to submit a claim to your insurance for reimbursement. Under the affordable care act, insurance providers must provide lactation support, counseling and equipment to a breastfeeding mother. More information on can be found here and a directory of IBCLCs can be found here.
A Support Group
We are lucky in Hoboken to have a number of different support groups for new moms, including those focused on breastfeeding. The Hoboken Hospital runs a weekly new moms support group facilitated by an IBCLC. You do not have to have delivered at the hospital to attend and many local moms report that they not only got valuable support with breastfeeding, they also made great new-mom-friends!
La Leche League is an is an international, nonprofit, nonsectarian organization dedicated to providing education, information, support, and encouragement to women who want to breastfeed. They have monthly meetings in Hoboken which are free to attend. The local leaders are also a wonderful resource and available to discuss questions outside of meetings.
Should I Ask My OB/GYN, Midwife or Pediatrician?
Obstetricians and midwives are experts in human gestation and childbirth, but unfortunately they receive very little training in human lactation and may not always be the best resource for breastfeeding questions. Likewise, your child’s pediatrician is an expert in infant and childhood development but not an expert in lactation. Your pediatrician will be a valuable resource in ensuring that your baby is healthy and gaining weight appropriately and your OB or Midwife will be an important resource in making sure you are healthy after delivery of your baby. However, these medical professionals may not be the best resource if you encounter problems with your breastfeeding relationship. Fortunately, many modern OB/Midwifery and Pediatric practices have relationships with lactation support professionals and should be able to guide you in the right direction to finding qualified help.
What About The Internet?
While there are a number of good resources available on the web, it is always better to consult a professional. But if you are committed to doing some of our own research, the site Kelly Mom is widely considered to be a good source of easy-to-understand evidence based information on breastfeeding.
Erin lives in uptown Hoboken with her two boys, Cameron and Charlie, her husband David and their beagle Penny. She is a Lactation Consultant and a Certified Babywearing Educator who loves helping new parents with breastfeeding, infant care, baby carriers and more. In addition to loving all things baby, Erin enjoys travel, photography and playing in the park with her boys.
Erin is one of the guest speakers at Little Bee Learning Studio's Nesting Series. To learn more, or to register visit Little Bee Learning Studio