Right ladies. Lets talk about your jugs. More specifically your wonderfully designed, milk producing beauties.
If you’ve done any biology, research into them or just admire your own, you’ll know that your jugs are so perfectly made for what they were intended for that surely nothing could go wrong, right?! The only thing you really needed to think about was whether you would breast feed or bottle feed, right?! Yeah, that’s what I thought too.
Then your little darling comes along (‘they’ bent the truth on that whole “you’ll soon forget”, “it was such a wonderful experience” and the classic “I feel more like a woman than ever before”. Where else did the truth get bent?!) and you’ve decided that you’ll breastfeed because, you know, that’s best-everyone tells you and you’ve researched the hell out of breastfeeding, weighing up pros and cons (pros- reduces the risk of diarrohea and vomiting, infections and SIDS (NHS.UK, 2014)’. Cons-3am feeds, logistics of feeding out and about) and you’re suddenly thrust into the world of nipple creams, nipple shields, breastpads, expressing machines…..the list goes on and it’s all essential apparently.
A kindly aunt talks about “her Hugo’s tongue tie that made breastfeeding excruciating darling”, the lady in the next bed who warns “make sure you don’t get mastitis, it’s a total bitch” and your fabulous friend who throws the “you’re nipples will look like dead mans thumbs but don’t worry, you’re jugs will never be the same again anyway” as she leaves. Great. Thanks.
So, what does any sensible, hormone crazed, sleep deprived new mother do? She uses the 3am feed to seek out potential jug heroes that will swoop in and sort out her mastitis ridden, bleeding deadman’s thumbs at a moments notice!
Enter the Lactation Consultant website *can you hear the angels singing?!*.
The website promises everything you want but what exactly do they do? Who are they? Are they the only ones that can help?
So, here’s where I come in.
Grab a coffee and I’ll break down exactly who’s who, what they do and where you can find them.
Also known as IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant).
These highly experienced, educated and qualified professionals are the gold standard. They can be found in both the public and private sector. Some hospitals have them based on their neonatal intensive care units or have dedicated infant feeding teams where they would have a lead role. They can also be based in the community in breastfeeding cafes or attached to GPs.
If you find them privately, you can check that they’re legitimate with the handy IBLCE registry where only certified lactation consultants can be listed.
They have invariably seen all manner of issues both the most simple and complex. They can provided you with fantastic support (because you’ll start questioning everything now there’s another life you need to protect!) and can troubleshoot with you.
Positioning and latching your baby on your jugs, getting your milk established and increasing your supply, preventing and advising on your concerns like mastitis, breast pain and engorgement are all well within their remit. They can also offer top quality support with issues such as latching difficulties (Hugo’s tongue tie!), babies with neurological and physical disabilities (cleft lip/palate) and premature babies.
These ladies are part of organisations such as NCT, Breastfeeding Network (BfN) or Le Leche League GB (LLL).
They are all highly experienced mothers who have breastfed their own children for at least 6-12 months.
You can find them volunteering in mother support groups, antenatal classes and helplines.
Their knowledge of the most common issues with breastfeeding dovetails with that of the IBCLC.
Can also be known as peer counsellor, mother supporter or breastfeeding buddy.
Peer supporters are certified from organisations (LLL, BfN, NCT). They are generally women who have breastfed their own babies and can offer a non judgemental listening ear (trust me, you’ll need it!) They can give supervised advice on basic breastfeeding issues and refer more complex issues on to specialist professionals.
You can find these volunteers in children’s centres, breastfeeding drop ins, and hospitals.
So there you go! Now there’s no excuse for you to suffer in silence and you can go forth and track down the most appropriate person to support you and your jugs!
NHS.UK, (2014) ‘Benefits of breastfeeding’ [online] Available from: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/Pages/benefits-breastfeeding.aspx
(Accessed 21 July 2016)