Two years ago, I sat in a hospital bed trying to get my new daughter to latch when a short, middle-aged man walked in. "I’m your lactation consultant," he said, extending his hand. He immediately got down to business as I tried to learn the ins and outs of breastfeeding. "Whoa there tiger!" he exclaimed as my daughter began to hungrily nurse. Hormones mixed with my first mom victory had me in love with that sweet-faced man. But sometimes moms leave the hospital and need to seek outside help, wondering: Where do I find a lactation consultant?
"When seeking a lactation consultant, first make sure they are an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)," says Leigh Anne O’Connor, IBCLC and parenting coach, in an email interview with Romper.
The reason for finding an IBCLC? While there are several certifications for lactation assistance, IBCLCs are required to go through several hundred hours of hands-on experience and classroom education before taking the exam, according to the Second Nine Months website.
After checking credentials, O’Connor says it’s time to do a bit of detective work and check out potential candidates’ websites to learn more about their experience and see what local, national, and international professional associations they might belong to. It can also be helpful to talk to your child’s pediatrician, or get word-of-mouth recommendations from family or friends.
O’Connor suggests talking to a consultant to make sure the two of you are a good match as well. "A lactation consultant should be open minded to the specific needs of the family seeking help," she says.
If you are pregnant and want to have your breastfeeding guidance prepared, then try to secure a lactation consultant before you give birth. Important questions include asking how long they have been an IBCLC, areas of expertise, what their experience is with high-need babies, and how they might help with issues like low milk supply.
Consider also finding a La Leche League leader near you or popping in on one of their online meetings and chats for quick answers to common breastfeeding issues, like pumping, increasing milk supply, and how often to feed your little one.
Take it from me: Don't be afraid to lean on a little help. I never expected that a man older than my father would provide me with the help I needed to confidently breastfeed my daughter. But as we both sat grinning at her happily nursing, I couldn't help but feel one thing: this is a match made in heaven.