I honestly don’t remember her name (maybe Gail?) but I can recall her blond hair, her peppy demeanor, and her uncanny ability to somehow magically shift my body and my baby so that we finally synced. In those first weeks of parenthood, my lactation consultant was like my best friend, my hero, the Romy to my Michele, the Cher to my Dionne (or my overall-swearing Tai) and the Monica Geller to my Rachel Green. She seriously made a major impact on my breastfeeding experience and without her, I’m not sure I would have managed to make it through the challenges my son and I had faced.
OK so, technically, yes, I would have been able to feed my son without a lactation consultant; I’m just not sure I would have been able to feed my son by way of breastfeeding, which is what mattered to me at the time. There are plenty of reasons why women might be unable to (or choose not to) breastfeed, but in my mind, I had no excuses. It was something I wanted to do, and it was something I felt like I needed to do. Every woman is different and I'm definitely not downplaying the breastfeeding journeys that end because a mother either cannot or chooses not to continue. The complications that arise when you try to feed your kid with your own body are difficult, to say the least. So, is a lactation consultant the end-all-be-all, magical human being that can make those complications go away? Well, I guess it depends.
Because while there were actually a number of people who provided valuable help to my partner and I when we first became parents, the crucial albeit fleeting relationship I had with my lactation consultant was like making friends at summer camp; she was hugely important for a few weeks, I couldn’t imagine life without her and then, rather suddenly, we moved on. Still, the short nature of our relationship doesn't diminish how important it is, which is why she was definitely my BFF during those early days, for the following reasons:
They're Someone You Turn To During A Really Scary Time
What is a BFF if not someone you count on when the going gets tough? I feel like lactation consultants should get extra points because they're there for you when the toughness involves bodily fluids, and that is next-level commitment.
They've Probably Seen You Cry
And, they didn’t make fun of you for it. This part is key.
They've Seen You Half-Naked
To be fair, not all of my friends have seen me half-naked, or have even seen me breastfeed. However, those that have are in my trusted inner circle, so I feel like my lactation consultant should have a direct pass, too.
They've Held Your Baby With As Much Care As You Would. OK, Maybe Not You, But Someone Close To You.
Handing your baby to someone else can be an act of courage, love, desperation, or a mix of all three depending on the circumstances. So, to see my baby relaxed in my lactation consultant's capable arms brought the kind of comfort that a warm blanket on a fall day, or a late night viewing of Dirty Dancing can bring. It’s the kind of comfort that your soul feels.
They Help You Work Toward A Goal That's Extremely Important To You
Kind of like an exercise buddy, but for breastfeeding. And not a buddy, but a licensed professional. That said, in both cases there are copious amounts of calories burned so I stand by the metaphor.
They Support Your Desire To Breastfeed Despite Challenges
Isn’t it a truth universally acknowledged that the support of someone else can make a huge difference when overcoming challenges? Now that I think about it, perhaps I should enlist my lactation consultant's help next time I hit up Target with my toddler.
They've Known Your Baby Since His Or Her Earliest Days
In my experience, it was my nearest and dearest who were making the time to meet my son directly after he was born. It would make sense that my lactation consultant would be in the same category.
You See Them More Frequently After Your Baby Is Born Than You See Most Of Your Relatives
Speaking of making the time to see people, my lactation consultant saw more of me than some of my tried and trues BFFs. Granted, many of them live hundreds of miles away, but my point still stands. She put in that time, and that time is so very crucial.