Breastfeeding: Get the Support You Need
What to Expect From a Lactation Consultant
Mason, a mother of three, has worked as a lactation coach in the San Francisco Bay Area for 13 years. Like many lactation consultants, she also offers information on infant care, how to calm a fussy baby, and basic newborn behavior and development.
"I strongly believe that a new mom should stay at home with her baby and that help should come to her, so I do home visits," Mason says. "I come when the baby is awake and I can make a good assessment and observe the baby nursing. I stay for about 1 and a half hours. During this time, I gather information from Mom, observe the baby nursing and latching on, and then provide Mom with a plan of action to address her breastfeeding questions and concerns."
It helps to get the names of a few lactation consultants before your baby arrives, whether you end up using them or not, so you won't have to scramble right after the birth. Your doctor, pediatrician, hospital, or midwife should be able to refer you to one, and many hospitals now offer lactation consultant services.
You can also find names in your area at the International Lactation Consultant Association web site, which features an international directory.
La Leche League: Community Support for Breastfeeding Mothers
For 40 years, this international organization has been providing education and community support for breastfeeding mothers. La Leche League International (LLLI) operates through local meetings, where women can ask questions and share information.
Weir says she referred to LLLI's book, The Womanly Art of Breast-feeding, often in the days after she came home from the hospital with her son, Luca, and it helped her resolve several nursing issues.
To find out more about La Leche League or to find a local chapter in your area or country, check out its web site.
Phone Help for Breastfeeding Problems
It may not be very personal, but calling a breastfeeding hotline is fast and convenient. They may be able to answer some general questions if that is all you need. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services runs the free National Breastfeeding Helpline, which is staffed by peer counselors trained by La Leche League. They can answer your basic breastfeeding questions. To reach the helpline, call 1-800-994-9662.