Breastfeeding a newborn infant is one of the most beautiful and instinctive acts in nature. It is a special experience for numerous reasons, not the least of which is that it provides an opportunity for a mother to bond with her baby. It is also an effective way to provide perfect nutrition for your baby, and offers health benefits for both mother and child.
New mothers often need support and information when learning how to breastfeed. Breastfeeding is an acquired skill that invariably requires patience and practice. As such, the learning stages of nursing can be both frustrating and uncomfortable for some women. There are even some situations that make breastfeeding even more difficult, such as when a baby is delivered prematurely, or the mother has diagnosed health problems.
What Breastfeeding Support Entails
A lactation consultant is a health professional who has undergone specialized training and certification to provide support, advice, and guidance to women who choose to breastfeed. Whether you are a first-time parent, a surrogate mother, or a parent who has already breastfed children, a lactation consultant can help you with common nursing problems, such as painful nipples, milk supply, and breastfeeding positions. Studies show that these challenges are often factors in a person’s choice to stop breastfeeding, and that a lactation consultant can help solve these feeding problems and improve a mother’s chances of successfully breastfeeding as long as they choose.
Usually, a lactation consultant is needed during the first few weeks after you give birth when your baby is still learning to feed from the breast. However, you can visit a lactation consultant while still pregnant or several months after you start breastfeeding. Some compelling reasons to make an appointment with a lactation consultant include:
- Breast engorgement
- Sore, cracked, or painful nipples
- Plugged ducts or breast infection
- Milk supply concerns
- Struggling with nursing positions
- Baby is refusing the breast
- Baby has issues with latching or sucking
- Baby isn’t gaining weight
- Help with pumping and bottle feeding breastmilk
When visiting you within the first few days of giving birth, your lactation consultant will review your health history, pregnancy, delivery, and other vital information about your baby’s health, as well as observe you breastfeeding your baby. Close attention will be paid to how your baby latches to your nipple, as well as how your baby sucks, swallows, and breathes as they feed. Your lactation consultant will provide pointers on how to comfortably position yourself and your baby, and answer any questions you may have. Aside from offering advice and reassurance, a lactation consultant can help you troubleshoot specific issues. As a specially trained and certified professional, your lactation consultant can teach you how to:
- Increase and maintain your supply of breastmilk
- Recognize your baby’s hunger cues
- Determine a feeding schedule
- Ensure your baby is latching properly
- Treat breast engorgement or sore or cracked nipples
- Find the best breastfeeding position
- Ensure that your baby is gaining weight
- Use a pump to express breastmilk
Breastfeeding Support in Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida
The good news about breastfeeding is that it can get easier with the lactation support provided by Children’s Medical Center. Our lactation consultants are dedicated and experienced breastfeeding advocates who love to help new moms and babies. Tina Portalatin is a certified lactation consultant, as well as a patient and family care advocate at our Palm Harbor location with more than 30 years of experience as a licensed nurse and more than 20 of them in pediatrics.