5 Essential Ways an IBCLC Can Support You as a New Mom - Milk Supply Mama

5 Essential Ways an IBCLC Can Support You as a New Mom

Last Updated: January 10, 2024By 15.7 min read

Picture this: you’re a new mom, at home with your adorable newborn. You’ve read all the books, attended all the classes, but still, breastfeeding isn’t going as smoothly as you’d imagined. You’re tired, a bit overwhelmed, and could really use some support. This is where an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) can make a world of difference. In this article, we’ll explore the five key ways an IBCLC can support you on this exciting, but sometimes challenging, journey of motherhood.

Article Overview

So, what’s an IBCLC, you ask? An IBCLC is a healthcare professional specializing in the clinical management of breastfeeding. These folks are the crème de la crème of lactation support, having undergone extensive training and passed a rigorous exam. An IBCLC is like your personal breastfeeding guru, there to guide you through any hiccups along the way.

Now, let’s dive into the five key ways an IBCLC can provide support.

1. Personalized Breastfeeding Support

You’ve probably heard the saying, “no two snowflakes are alike.” Well, the same can be said about breastfeeding journeys. Every mom-baby duo is unique, and what works for one might not quite hit the mark for another. And that’s totally okay. This is where the magic of an IBCLC comes into play.

An IBCLC isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of helper. They’re a bit like your breastfeeding fairy godmother, ready to tailor their guidance to your specific needs and challenges. They start by getting to know you, your baby, and your unique situation. They’re all ears, listening to your concerns, and they’re genuinely invested in finding solutions that work for you.

Say, for example, your little one has a lip or tongue tie making latching difficult. It can be really frustrating when you’re doing everything “by the book,” yet your baby still seems to struggle. An IBCLC can help identify such issues, and they can provide practical tips and techniques to improve the situation.

Or perhaps you’re dealing with low milk supply. This is a common worry for many new moms and can feel incredibly disheartening. But don’t despair – your IBCLC has a toolkit of strategies to help boost your milk production, from suggesting lactation-boosting foods, offering advice on pumping schedules, to showing you massage techniques that can stimulate milk supply.

Maybe you have cracked or sore nipples from breastfeeding – Ouch! An IBCLC can help here too. They can provide advice on healing, show you how to ensure a proper latch to prevent further pain, and if needed, introduce you to nipple shields or other tools that can help.

And let’s not forget about those early days when you’re just getting the hang of it all. Positions, latch, timing, oh my! It can be overwhelming. An IBCLC can walk you through different breastfeeding positions – you’d be surprised at how many there are – and help you find one that feels comfortable for you and your baby. They can also guide you on how to achieve a good latch, which is key to successful breastfeeding.

What’s great about an IBCLC is that they’re not just there for the problems or challenges. They’re there for the whole journey. They can provide advice on pumping and storing breastmilk, help you understand your baby’s feeding cues, and even support you with weaning when the time comes.

In short, when it comes to breastfeeding, consider an IBCLC as your personal guide, your cheerleader, and your problem-solver. They’re there to make your breastfeeding journey as smooth and enjoyable as possible. After all, this is a special time for you and your baby, and you deserve all the support you can get.

2. Postpartum Care Advice

Postpartum. It’s that period after you’ve given birth when you’re trying to figure out how to care for a new human while also recovering physically and emotionally yourself. It’s a whirlwind of joy, love, exhaustion, and sometimes, a little bit of confusion. This is where the wisdom of an IBCLC can be incredibly helpful.

One of the big postpartum topics an IBCLC can help with is breast changes. After birth, your breasts go through a lot. Engorgement, or when your breasts feel overly full and uncomfortable, is a common issue. It’s like your body got super excited about making milk and went a bit overboard. An IBCLC can provide tips for managing engorgement, like how to use cold compresses or express a little milk to relieve discomfort.

If you’ve had a C-section, an IBCLC can guide you on how to breastfeed comfortably. You might be dealing with post-surgery pain and wondering how on earth you’re supposed to breastfeed without putting pressure on your incision. There are specific positions, like the side-lying or football hold, that an IBCLC can demonstrate to make breastfeeding after a C-section a lot more comfortable.

An IBCLC can also provide advice on healing from childbirth, regardless of the type of delivery. They can suggest safe pain relief options, guide you on caring for your perineum, and give you tips for resting and recovering while also caring for a newborn. Yes, it’s a bit of a juggling act, but with the right guidance, it can definitely be done.

Mastitis and blocked ducts are other common postpartum concerns. If you’re experiencing symptoms like a hard, painful spot on your breast or flu-like symptoms, an IBCLC can guide you on what to do next. They can show you how to massage the area, advise on using heat or cold, and suggest when it might be time to call a doctor.

An IBCLC can also help navigate the emotional landscape of the postpartum period. Feelings of sadness, anxiety, or mood swings, often referred to as the “baby blues,” are common in the first two weeks after giving birth. If these feelings persist or become more intense, it could be a sign of postpartum depression. An IBCLC can help normalize these feelings, provide support, and refer you to a mental health professional if needed.

In short, an IBCLC is like your postpartum guru. They’re there to help you understand what’s normal, what’s not, and how to take care of yourself while you’re also taking care of your baby. The postpartum period is a time of immense change, but with an IBCLC by your side, you won’t have to navigate it alone.

3. Emotional Support and Reassurance

Motherhood is amazing, but let’s be real, it can also be a rollercoaster of emotions. One minute you’re over the moon with love for your little one, and the next, you’re crying because you can’t remember the last time you had a full night’s sleep. On top of that, you’re trying to get the hang of breastfeeding, which can bring its own set of emotional challenges.

An IBCLC understands this emotional rollercoaster. They’ve worked with countless new moms and have seen it all. They’re not just there to help with the physical aspects of breastfeeding; they’re there to provide emotional support too.

Feeling anxious about your milk supply? Your IBCLC can provide reassurance, explain what’s normal, and give you practical tips to boost supply if needed. They can also help you understand your baby’s feeding cues and growth spurts, which can sometimes make you think you’re not producing enough milk when you actually are.

Exhausted from round-the-clock feedings? Your IBCLC gets it. They can offer advice on how to get more rest, like maximizing skin-to-skin contact to encourage your baby to feed more efficiently, or introducing a pump so a partner can help with feedings.

Feeling a bit down or overwhelmed? Your IBCLC is there to remind you that you’re doing an incredible job. They can validate your feelings, provide a listening ear, and remind you to take care of yourself too. Remember, it’s okay to ask for help and take time for self-care.

In some cases, your IBCLC may be the first to notice signs of postpartum depression or anxiety. They’re trained to spot these signs and can refer you to a mental health professional for further support. Remember, it’s completely okay to seek help. You’re not alone, and there are professionals ready to support you.

An IBCLC can also provide reassurance as you navigate any breastfeeding challenges. Whether it’s sore nipples, latch issues, or concerns about returning to work while breastfeeding, your IBCLC is there to answer your questions, provide solutions, and reassure you that you can handle this.

In a nutshell, think of your IBCLC as a comforting presence in your corner. They’re there to provide emotional support, lend a listening ear, and reassure you that you’re doing an amazing job. After all, you’re a mom, and that’s a pretty incredible thing.

4. Nutritional Guidance

The moment you became a mom, you took on a superpower. You’re now capable of producing all the nutrition your baby needs for the first six months of their life. Incredible, right? But with this superpower comes questions. What should you eat to ensure you’re producing nutritious milk? How can you boost your milk supply? An IBCLC can guide you through these nutritional queries and more.

First off, an IBCLC can provide advice on a well-balanced diet. Remember, the food you eat impacts the quality of your breast milk. They can suggest a variety of foods across all food groups to ensure you’re getting a range of nutrients. They can also advise on foods rich in key nutrients for breastfeeding moms, like calcium, protein, and vitamins A and C.

Dealing with low milk supply? Your IBCLC can recommend foods known to support lactation, often referred to as galactagogues. Foods like oats, fenugreek, and flaxseed have been used for generations to boost milk supply. However, it’s important to note that while these foods can help, they’re not a magic bullet. Your IBCLC will also discuss other factors that impact milk supply, like frequent feeding and ensuring a good latch.

Perhaps you’re wondering about foods to avoid while breastfeeding. You might’ve heard advice to steer clear of spicy foods or certain vegetables in case they give your baby gas. An IBCLC can clarify these concerns and provide evidence-based advice. They’ll likely explain that most moms can eat a wide variety of foods without it affecting their baby, but if you notice a pattern of fussiness after eating certain foods, it might be worth exploring further.

In some cases, your baby may have a food allergy or intolerance that shows up through your breast milk. If your baby has symptoms like excessive fussiness, bloody stools, or a rash, an IBCLC can guide you on how to identify potential food allergens in your diet and eliminate them safely.

Remember, breastfeeding is thirsty work, so hydration is crucial. An IBCLC will remind you to drink plenty of fluids. A good tip they might share is to have a glass of water each time you sit down to breastfeed.

Lastly, an IBCLC can provide guidance if you’re considering dieting while breastfeeding. They can help you understand how to lose weight safely without impacting your milk supply.

All in all, an IBCLC is like your personal nutrition coach during your breastfeeding journey. They can provide dietary tips, bust food myths, and guide you on how to nourish yourself and your baby. After all, taking care of your nutrition is part of taking care of your baby.

5. Help with Special Cases

When it comes to breastfeeding, sometimes things don’t go as planned. Maybe your baby was born prematurely, or perhaps you have twins (or more!). Perhaps you or your baby has a medical condition that makes breastfeeding more challenging. In these special cases, an IBCLC can be your guiding light.

If your baby is born prematurely, they may need to spend some time in the NICU, making direct breastfeeding difficult. An IBCLC can guide you on how to establish and maintain your milk supply during this time, often through a combination of skin-to-skin contact and pumping. They can also help you transition to direct breastfeeding when your baby is ready.

For moms of multiples, an IBCLC can be a game-changer. Feeding two or more babies at once is a whole different ball game. Your IBCLC can teach you techniques for tandem feeding, helping you feed your babies at the same time. They can also guide you on how to manage your milk supply to meet the needs of multiple babies.

If you have a medical condition, like diabetes or PCOS, that might impact breastfeeding, an IBCLC can provide tailored advice. They can guide you on how to manage any breastfeeding challenges related to your condition, and they can work in tandem with your healthcare provider to ensure you receive holistic care.

Similarly, if your baby has a medical condition like a cleft palate or Down syndrome, an IBCLC can help. They can provide specific techniques and tools to support successful breastfeeding. They understand that every baby is different and are skilled at finding solutions that work for you and your unique little one.

If you’re going back to work, an IBCLC can help you navigate this transition. They can provide advice on pumping, storing breast milk, and maintaining your milk supply. They can also give you tips on how to make the transition easier for you and your baby.

Breastfeeding after breast surgery can also present unique challenges. An IBCLC can help you understand how your surgery might impact breastfeeding and provide strategies to maximize milk production and ensure your baby gets the nourishment they need.

All in all, an IBCLC is like a specialist guide for your breastfeeding journey. Whatever your unique situation, they have the skills, knowledge, and empathy to provide the support you need. Remember, every breastfeeding journey is unique, and it’s okay if yours doesn’t look like everyone else’s. With an IBCLC by your side, you can navigate any bumps in the road with confidence.

Reader Stories: IBCLC and You

Rose’s Story: Overcoming Low Milk Supply

When I gave birth to my first child, I was excited to breastfeed but quickly became worried about my milk supply. My baby, Ethan, was always fussy after feedings, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that he wasn’t getting enough milk. That’s when I decided to consult with an IBCLC.

The IBCLC listened patiently to my concerns and helped me understand that my milk supply was still establishing itself. She taught me various techniques to help increase my milk production, like breast compressions and pumping after feedings. Within a few weeks, my supply increased, and Ethan was much more content.

Priya’s Story: Navigating Breastfeeding with Twins

When I found out I was expecting twins, I knew that breastfeeding would be a challenge. I was determined to make it work, so I sought the help of an IBCLC. She taught me how to tandem feed my babies, which saved me so much time and energy.

The IBCLC also gave me tips on managing my milk supply, ensuring both babies were well-fed. With her support, I was able to successfully breastfeed my twins for over a year.

Lisa’s Story: Returning to Work While Breastfeeding

As my maternity leave was nearing its end, I started to stress about how to continue breastfeeding while working full-time. An IBCLC helped me devise a plan that included pumping at work and maintaining my milk supply.

She taught me how to properly store and transport my breast milk and even advised on how to talk to my employer about my needs as a breastfeeding mom. Thanks to the IBCLC’s guidance, I was able to continue breastfeeding my baby even after returning to work.

Sophie’s Story: Breastfeeding After Breast Surgery

A few years before my first pregnancy, I had breast reduction surgery. I knew this might make breastfeeding more challenging, but I was determined to give it a try. With the help of an IBCLC, I was able to navigate the potential obstacles related to breastfeeding after surgery.

She taught me various positions and techniques to ensure my baby could latch properly and get the nourishment they needed. With the support of the IBCLC, I was able to have a successful breastfeeding journey despite my prior surgery.

In each of these situations, the support of an IBCLC made a significant difference in my breastfeeding journey. They provided me with the knowledge, tools, and confidence I needed to overcome challenges and continue nurturing my baby through breastfeeding.

FAQ: Let’s address some common questions about IBCLCs:

Q: What is the difference between an IBCLC and a lactation consultant

A: All IBCLCs are lactation consultants, but not all lactation consultants are IBCLCs. The IBCLC certification requires more extensive training and passing a stringent exam. They’re the gold standard in lactation support.

Q: How can an IBCLC support my mental health?

A: An IBCLC is there to provide emotional support, reassurance, and guidance. While they aren’t mental health professionals, they can help normalize your experiences, alleviate fears and anxieties, and refer you to a mental health expert if needed.

Q: How often should I see an IBCLC?

A: This depends on your individual needs. Some moms may only need one or two visits, while others may benefit from more frequent support. It’s completely okay to see an IBCLC even if you aren’t having any issues – sometimes, it’s just nice to have that reassurance!

Q: Can an IBCLC provide advice if I’m having trouble with latching?

A: Absolutely! Latch issues are a common concern for many new moms. An IBCLC can observe a feeding, suggest different positions or techniques, and work with you to create a plan to improve the latch.

Q: Can I consult with an IBCLC even if I’m not having any breastfeeding problems?

A: Of course! An IBCLC is not just for resolving issues, but also for providing education and reassurance. They can answer your questions, help you understand what to expect, and provide tips for maintaining your breastfeeding relationship.

IBCLC Support With Your Breastfeeding Journey

Having an IBCLC by your side can make your breastfeeding journey smoother, more comfortable, and less stressful. They’re there to provide personalized support, postpartum care advice, emotional reassurance, nutritional guidance, and assistance with special cases. So whether you’re expecting, just had a baby, or are a few months into motherhood, remember that you don’t have to do it alone. Reach out to an IBCLC – they’re there to support you every step of the way.

Don’t forget to share this article with other new moms or moms-to-be in your circle. You never know who might need to hear that there’s support available, and that it’s okay to reach out. After all, it takes a village to raise a child, and an IBCLC can be a valuable member of your village.

IBCLC – Further Reading

Leave A Comment