The World Health Organization, or WHO, says breast feeding is “one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival.”
Yet less than 40 percent of infants younger than 6 months are breast-fed exclusively across the globe, according to WHO.
Why? Often, it’s a simple matter of support.
Mothers can feel overwhelmed with breast feeding, even when it isn’t their first child. Each child is different and can present new challenges when it comes to breast feeding. It’s important for moms to know they aren’t alone. That’s where lactation nurses can help.
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International Board Certified Lactation Consultants can provide the guidance and support moms need to make breast feeding a healthy and happy experience for them and for their babies. And most of the time, services are covered by insurance providers at little or no cost to moms.
International Board Certified Lactation Consultants are registered nurses who have completed an additional 90 hours of continuing education and successfully passed a board exam (similar to a nursing board exam) for certification. They are required to recertify every five years and complete the board exam every 10 years to stay current on the latest developments in the field.
This additional training provides them with the expertise and resources to help mothers be successful.
One of the most common concerns mothers have is making sure that their child is latching correctly and the baby is getting enough milk. Thus, before leaving the hospital, it’s a good idea for mothers to request a latch assessment from a lactation consultant. The latch might seem correct, but consultants can confirm and provide additional tips specific to the child. There are components to a proper latch that are very important for transferring milk and ensuring the baby gains weight.
Moms might think they don’t have an ample milk supply, but a lactation consultant’s evaluation often can ease those fears and provide additional tips to make breast feeding better for the mother and child (such as how to keep milk supply up and tips for pumping when returning to work).
While it is natural for babies to lose some weight, if a child loses more than 10 percent of its birth weight. pediatricians typically will refer the mother to a lactation consultant for a weight check and lactation evaluation.
At an outpatient visit, lactation consultants weigh the child before and after a feeding to determine if the child is getting enough milk, check the child’s latch and monitor to see how many times the child swallows during a feeding.
Lactation consultants have a toolbox of resources to make breast feeding a little easier. Talk to your doctor and hospital about breast-feeding resources and take advantage of those available to you.
Anna Chamberlain is an International Board Certified lactation Consultant at Women’s Hospital at St. Joseph East.