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What to Expect During a Lactation Consultation

Now that you have found a high quality IBCLC, make an appointment for a consultation!

WEBbirthcenter089When you make an appointment to see your IBCLC, try to make it at a time when you can bring a support person with you. You will be exhausted, sleep deprived, emotional, and stressed.  It will help you to have a second set of ears to listen to what the IBCLC is saying.

Make sure your baby will be willing to eat during the visit, but doesn’t show up starving.  Ideally, the IBCLC will talk with you and take a history before you begin feeding the baby. If you have a screaming, starving baby, you will need to jump straight to the feeding. This isn’t the worst thing ever, but it leaves a lot less time for the IBCLC to build rapport with you.

She may have you fill out an intake form before you come into her office or she may ask you questions during the visit. This should include your medical history, pregnancy and delivery history, and history of past breastfeeding experiences.  She will also ask you questions about the your current breastfeeding patterns, so you may want to jot down information or get an app like iBaby to keep track of when you are breastfeeding, as well as baby poops and pees.

If the baby doesn’t have to eat immediately, she should sit and talk to you before you start breastfeeding.  Hopefully, you have built a rapport with her before you whip out your boob.

Next, she should physically assess the baby. After she has washed her hands, she should feel your baby’s mouth with a gloved finger.  She is looking for any anatomical features of your baby’s mouth that may make breastfeeding more difficult. She is also feeling for the strength and organization of your baby’s suck.

She then will weigh your baby naked on her scale.  She will record the baby’s naked weight.  Then she will put a diaper back on your baby and weigh him in grams.  She should have a scale that is sensitive to two grams so that she can measure you baby’s milk transfer after he breastfeeds.

Next, she will observe a breastfeeding session.  Every lactation consultant has a different style when she does this. I like to first simply observe how a woman is nursing her baby at home.  I don’t change anything yet; I simply watch.  Then, I may readjust and assist the mother to better latch or position her baby.

All throughout the visit, the lactation consultant should observe and make adjustments.  She should weigh the baby again after breastfeeding is completed.

Once the visit is coming to an end, she should create a plan that is both reasonable and feasible for your lifestyle. You should feel as if this is a collaborative agreement, not her telling you what to do.

She should write this plan down clearly so you may refer to it (because you probably won’t remember everything she said).  She may provide you with materials to read at home.

She should decide with you when and how you will follow up.  Will you return to the office for another visit? Will the two of you talk on the phone? Who will call whom?

She should offer you further support as needed as your breastfeeding needs change. This may be in the form of a support group or a Facebook group.

Above all, you should leave your lactation consultation with a feeling of relief, hope, and empowerment.  You shouldn’t expect to feel “fixed,” but you should feel like you have a clear, feasible plan to follow for a defined period of time.

Remember, if you leave your visit feeling bewildered, defeated, incompetent, hopeless, overwhelmed, or confused, this lactation consultant may have not been the best fit for you.

Don’t give up!

Look for another consultant if necessary, attend a support group, or reach out for help from women you know who have breastfed.   Keep looking for that awesome IBCLC who will help you make breastfeeding work!

Still pregnant?

If you are local to the Wilmington, DE area, I would love to see you in one of the Breastfeeding Basics classes we offer at The Birth Center. 

If you aren’t able to join me live, check out the online education program I created- The Pregnant Mama’s Guide to Breastfeeding Success

Currently nursing?

Come see me or one of my fabulous colleagues at The Birth Center in Wilmington, DE. Let us take the time to teach you about your own unique baby and breastfeeding relationship during a one on one consultation.