Why Prenatal Visits With Lactation Consultants Are So Important

by Mishal Ali Zafar

I had planned on breastfeeding my daughter before she was born. I figured it wouldn't be too difficult, and that I'd sail through it with ease. I learned the hard way that breastfeeding comes with lots of unexpected questions and concerns. Looking back, I would have benefited tremendously if I had received the proper guidance and knowledge beforehand. If you are a pregnant mom who is planning on breastfeeding, you may wonder, "Should I see a lactation consultant before my baby is born?" It could be more helpful than you know.

In an interview with Romper, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) Leah Segura says that prenatal lactation consultations are one of the best ways to prepare to breastfeed. "The vast majority of the issues I see in my practice could have been prevented with the right education and support before the birth of a baby," she says.

Segura says that if you haven't been able to meet your breastfeeding goals in the past, or if you or your baby have a medical issue, a prenatal consultation can focus on your individual needs and help set you up for success. She says it will also allow you to establish a relationship with your lactation consultant, so that when your baby is born, they are already aware of your specific needs and can jump right in to support you.

IBCLC and registered nurse Lori Atkins, from Oh, Baby Lactation Care tells Romper that one of the most impactful things parents can do to ensure breastfeeding success is to learn the basics and learn ways to overcome early challenges with an IBCLC. "I find that my families who have prenatal visits are more calm, and feel a lot more empowered about infant behavior and what to expect hour to hour in the hospital." Atkins says that lactation consultants get the opportunity to discuss any medical issues or anatomical concerns with mom or baby ahead of time, and moms can ask lots of questions in the privacy of their own home.

There are some circumstances in which moms should definitely consider talking to a lactation consultant if they are planning on breastfeeding, too. Rachael Anastasio Collins, IBCLC, BSN, and registered nurse, tells Romper that if a parent is adopting and interested in inducing lactation, it's important to begin working with a lactation consultant as soon as possible.

If a mom has had problems breastfeeding in the past, Collins thinks reaching out earlier can help as well. "If the mother was unable to breastfeed with a previous child, it can be helpful to chat with a lactation consultant to determine possible areas where there was difficulty, and work on a plan of action should those difficulties arise again," she says.

If you are worried about cost, you may be surprised. Atkins says that insurance should cover most of the costs associated with prenatal prep visits and that some lactation consultants will even do telephone or Skype visits.

When it comes to your baby, you can never be prepared enough. Having the support of a lactation consultant before you start your breastfeeding journey can make the experience a lot easier.