In honor of National Breastfeeding Month, we would like to welcome Brandi Crockett, IBCLC to answer some common questions regarding breastfeeding, lactation, and the role of an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant. Read what she has to say below!
August Is National Breastfeeding Month!
You may be wondering why on earth there would be such a thing as National Breastfeeding Month. This month highlights the many benefits of breastfeeding. Sometimes people feel as if birth professionals, shove breastfeeding down their throats. (We really don’t mean for it be a forceful thing.) There are still many individuals that don’t know about the benefits of breastfeeding.
What’s an IBCLC?
That is where I, as well as National Breastfeeding Month, comes in. I am an IBCLC. That stands for Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant. I hold the highest position within the lactation world. No, I am not a nurse and I do not work in a hospital. I work in private practice, and I love being able to see moms in their homes and giving them 100% of my attention and giving them the care that they deserve.
There are quite a few individuals that don’t even know that my profession even exists! This saddens me because I wish that all new moms received a home visit from an IBCLC. I think that we would see more successful breastfeeding and empowered moms because they would be given the knowledge they need in order to make the best decisions regarding breastfeeding.
But I digress.
Frequently Asked Questions
The whole point of this is to help empower you by answering some of the questions that I get most often as an IBCLC.
Why would a new mom call an IBCLC? Or when is a good time to call? Can’t a nurse do that?
I get this question all the time. Any time a mom feels that breastfeeding is not going well is when she should call an IBCLC, and please call as soon as you get that feeling. Please do not wait till your supply has tanked and baby isn’t latching.
There are times when I have had a mom connect with me prenatally, either by phone or consult, and we have a plan of action once baby arrives. Not every mom needs to do that, but it never hurts to be prepared.
Why can’t a nurse or your pediatrician or OB/GYN help you with breastfeeding?
The basic answer is that because it’s not their specialty! Your nurse is there to help you with delivering your baby and your OB/GYN help with your pregnancy and also with the delivery of your baby. A postpartum nurse generally has a few tricks up her sleeve to help with breastfeeding, but again, she’s only there to help you recover from having your baby. So do me a favor, and call an IBCLC.
What About Bottles and Pacifiers?
Neither the bottle nor the pacifier in innately bad, it’s all about how you use them and which ones, and sometimes when you introduce them.
I always recommend a Dr. Brown’s bottle, usually with a premie nipple, but sometimes a size 1 (0-3m), but depends on the age of baby.A Dr. Brown’s bottle is a great shape that encourages babies to breastfeed well, and sometimes better. A baby has to curl their tongue around the nipple and hold it in their mouth in similar way that they would a nipple to breastfeed. I will often use this bottle to help strengthen a babies suck if they have had some oral struggles such as a tongue tie.
As for a pacifier, I would recommend a Soothie by Avent. The shape is similar to a Dr. Brown’s and in turn can help with suck training and strengthening. So how do we use a pacifier the right way? A nickname for a pacifier is a plug, and that is because parents will often give the baby a pacifier in order to get them to stop, or “plug” them up. Now the better way to use a pacifier is basically as last resort. Go thru the checklist; is baby hungry? Do they need to be changed? Burped? Cold? Hot? Anything pinching? If you’ve done everything then offer the pacifier. Sometimes babies will have a high suck need that a pacifier can help with- especially if mom doesn’t want to be the pacifier.
If all is going well with breastfeeding then a good time to introduce a bottle and a pacifier is by about 3 weeks of age. You can, by all means, introduce them earlier, but we generally try to wait until breastfeeding is more established before introducing anything extra. Now, I have certainly advised parents to introduce them earlier due to certain circumstances, but it’s always a case by case basis.
There are tons of different types of bottles out there, as well as lots of different types of pacifiers. The only time that I would say use whatever you’d like, is if breastfeeding is going extremely well. A lot of the pacifiers and bottles out there teach the baby to smash the nipple between their tongue and the roof of their mouth, which can then translate into smashing mom’s nipple while breastfeeding. That hurts! And is not doable long term. But again, it’s definitely a case by case basis.
How Long Should a Mom Breastfeed?
Now this is a loaded question! It really depends on the family dynamic. Some dryads (or triads) practice extended nursing (nursing beyond 2 years of age). And this works for them because breastfeeding is a relationship. It’s ever changing- and breastmilk is ever changing. Mom’s body knows exactly what that baby needs at that moment for how old that baby or toddler is.
Breastfeeding beyond a year may not work for everyone and that’s okay! Any breastmilk is better than no breastmilk. Again, breastfeeding is a relationship and it needs to work for all parties involved. Maybe the baby is ready to wean or mom needs/wants to wean, there are plenty of ways to go about this gently that works for everyone in order to make sure that everyone’s needs are met. Cold turkey weaning is hard on everyone, so I would not recommend it if you don’t have to. An IBCLC can help you figure out a way to wean your baby or even discuss your options for continuing to breastfeed past a year. An IBCLC is there to help with all aspects of breastfeeding.
Overall, breastfeeding is awesome! And I am so proud to be an IBCLC. I am glad that there is a National Breastfeeding Month so that we can bring this fantastic topic to the forefront. Lastly, when in doubt, remain calm and call an IBCLC!
Brandi Crockett, IBCLC lives in Granite Falls, WA with her husband of 14 years and 6 crazy, fully breastfed kids (including a set of twins). She loves her job and also enjoys running ragged playing soccer mom and scout mom as well as running 10k’s with her hubby.