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Lactation Consultants Give Mom and Baby a Great Start

Experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, believe breast milk is the best nutritional choice for infants, but breast-feeding can present a challenge for many women. Lactation consultants, members of Meritus Medical Center’s maternal-child health team, visit all mothers who express interest in breast-feeding while in the hospital. They often transition moms from “this is too hard” to “I can do this.”

Lactation consultants are typically registered nurses, midwives or physicians who are trained in breast-feeding management and care. Most of the Meritus Medical Center lactation consultants are certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners and pass a rigorous examination that allows them to promote breast-feeding and help mothers prevent and solve breast-feeding problems.

What do lactation consultants do?

During hospitalization, lactation consultants can observe the baby while breast-feeding and adjust positioning, examine the mother’s breasts and nipples and determine whether the baby is latching on correctly.

They can also educate mothers and family members on the benefits of breast-feeding and its challenges, offer tips to overcome these challenges and instruct mom on building and maintaining a strong milk supply. Lactation consultants provide guidance on pumping and how to continue to breast-feed after returning to work.

Meritus Medical Center’s lactation consultants also see moms or babies who are readmitted to the hospital and help them smoothly transition back to breast-feeding after separation during hospitalization. They can also provide information on breast-feeding and the compatibility of certain medications or medical treatments.

When to seek breast-feeding help

The worst time to teach breast-feeding is after the baby is born and when mom is tired and overwhelmed. Meritus Health offers free monthly breast-feeding support classes. New moms are encouraged to sign up for class one month prior to giving birth. After completing a breast-feeding class, a nursing mother and lactation consultant can then focus on problem-solving versus teaching during hospitalization.

Breast-feeding support system

Husbands and relatives can support a mother’s choice to breast-feed by cooking meals, holding the baby during mom’s naps, cleaning pump equipment and performing other household chores. To help dads understand the benefits and challenges of breast-feeding, lactation consultants recommend that dads attend the breast-feeding class too.

Lactation consultants acknowledge that the first two weeks of breast-feeding are challenging. Many moms face sleep deprivation, sore breasts and concern whether their baby is latching on and getting enough milk. But after several weeks, breast-feeding gets easier and the experience becomes rewarding.

“Breast-feeding not only makes the baby healthier overall, it really increases infant-mother bonding,” says Nelson Echebiri, M.D., obstetrician/gynecologist with Meritus Medical Group’s Women’s Health Center at Robinwood.

The family birthing center at Meritus Medical Center offers single-room maternity care for expectant mothers. A team of obstetricians, neonatologists, specially trained nurses, midwives and lactation consultants make labor, delivery and postpartum a memorable and successful experience.

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