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What is a Lactation Specialist?

Article Details
  • Written By: Dee S.
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 21 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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A lactation specialist, or lactation consultant, is a professional who is trained to teach mothers on a wide range of issues revolving around breastfeeding. For example, she may give mothers tips to help their babies latch properly. If a baby is having difficulties latching onto the breast, she will not receive an ample amount of breast milk. Other issues that a specialist may deal with include a low production of breast milk, and painful nursing sessions. In some cases, the specialist may consult with a new mother who is unsure whether she wants to breastfeed or not.

Depending on the area, a lactation specialist may be found in several places. For example, many hospitals, especially in larger cities, may have a lactation specialist on-site. If a mother to a newborn baby is having problems breastfeeding or if she has questions about breastfeeding, she may consult the specialist. If the specialist is on-site, a meeting can be setup within hours of a request. The specialist may also have her own independent practice or work in a pediatrician’s or obstetrician’s office.

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Sometimes a mother may not understand the basics behind breastfeeding. A lactation specialist may teach her these fundamentals. She may also offer emotional support. For example, if the baby is having trouble latching onto the breast or if the nursing session is extremely painful, the specialist can encourage the mother and give her additional tips on breastfeeding techniques. In some cases, a frustrated mother and baby only need a few words of support from a third-party, the lactation consultant.

Many hospitals offer a wide range of classes or clinics for expecting mothers. A lactation specialist may also be in charge of teaching classes that discuss breastfeeding basics. She may touch on a wide range of issues for a large group of pregnant women. For example, she may give mothers tips and techniques for nursing and pumping breast milk upon returning to school or work. As a result, most specialists are familiar with how breast pumps work.

Typically, once the baby is born the specialist will work one-on-one with new mothers and their babies. In some cases, the new duo may be invited to join a larger class, but large class situations are typically reserved for the most minor concerns or for women who are pregnant. Many obstetricians, nurses, midwives, and pediatricians will be able to provide new mothers with the contact information for specialists in their area. In addition, a local specialist may be found by calling organizations designed to support breast feeding mothers, such as the International Lactation Consultation Association and the La Leche League.

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