Although breastfeeding is a natural process, many moms need help. Breastfeeding moms can seek help from different types of health professionals, organizations, and members of their own families. Also, under the Affordable Care Act (the health care law), more women have access to free breastfeeding support and supplies. Don’t forget, friends who have successfully breastfed are great sources of information and encouragement!
HEALTH PROFESSIONALS WHO HELP WITH BREASTFEEDING
Smiling doctor standing in the foreground in a hospital room
INTERNATIONAL BOARD CERTIFIED LACTATION CONSULTANT (IBCLC). IBCLCs are certified breastfeeding professionals with the highest level of knowledge and skill in breastfeeding support. IBCLCs help with a wide range of breastfeeding concerns. To earn the IBCLC certification, candidates must have a medical or healthrelated educational background, have breastfeeding-specific education and clinical experience, and pass a rigorous exam. Ask your obstetrician, pediatrician, or midwife for the name of a lactation consultant who can help you. CERTIFIED LACTATION COUNSELOR OR CERTIFIED BREASTFEEDING EDUCATOR. A breastfeeding counselor or educator teaches about breastfeeding and helps women with basic breastfeeding challenges and questions. These counselors and educators have special breastfeeding training, usually limited to a week-long course. DOULA. A doula is professionally trained to give birthing families social support during pregnancy, labor, and birth as well as at home during the first few days or weeks after the baby is born. Doulas that are trained in breastfeeding can help you learn to breastfeed.
Also, look for a hospital that is designated Baby-Friendly. Baby-Friendly Hospitals provide support for breastfeeding mothers, including keeping mom and baby together throughout the hospital stay, teaching feeding cues and breastfeeding techniques, and providing support after leaving the hospital.
MOTHER-TO-MOTHER SUPPORT Other breastfeeding mothers can be a great source of support. Mothers can share tips and offer encouragement. You can connect with other breastfeeding mothers in many ways: • Ask your doctor or nurse to suggest a support group. Some pediatric practices also have an IBCLC on staff who leads regular support group meetings. • Ask your doctor or nurse for help finding a breastfeeding peer counselor. “Peer” means that the counselor has breastfed her own baby and can help other mothers breastfeed. Many state Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) programs offer peer counselors. • Search the Internet for a breastfeeding center near you. These centers may offer support groups. Some resources include: –Nursing Mothers Advisory Council –Nursing Mothers,.
BUILDING A SUPPORT NETWORK
Talk to fathers, partners, and other family members about how they can help. Breastfeeding is more than a way to feed a baby — it becomes a way of life. Fathers, partners, and other support persons can be involved in the breastfeeding experience, too. Partners and family members can: • Support your breastfeeding by being kind and encouraging • Help the mother during the night by getting the baby changed and ready to be fed • Show their love and appreciation for all of the work that goes into breastfeeding • Be good listeners if you need to talk about any breastfeeding concerns you might have • Help make sure you have enough to drink and get enough rest • Help around the house • Take care of any other children who are at home • Give the baby love through playing and cuddling Fathers, partners, and other people in the mother’s support system can benefit from breastfeeding, too. Not only are there no bottles to prepare, but many people feel warmth, love, and relaxation just from sitting next to a mother and baby during breastfeeding.