Is it common to have difficulties feeding?

It is very common to struggle and over 50% of women who wish to breastfeed end up giving up within the first 6-8 weeks. One of the reasons I have set up Bestfeeding is because I believe that women who wish to breastfeed should be supported at this very vulnerable and emotional time, so that they can achieve their desire to breastfeed. There are very few women who are unable to breastfeed their babies physiologically (less than 1%). Most fail because they are unable to access good, skilled professional support.

What is a Lactation Consultant?

A Lactation Consultant is someone who has sat the International Board of Certified Lactation Consultants Exam and has qualified with the IBCLC and is registered with them. They will have had at least 1000 hours of supporting breastfeeding experience and will have been examined in a range of breastfeeding related topics, from Anatomy and Physiology, Pharmacology, Virology, through to Ethics and assisting adoptive parents with lactation.

A practitioner can only be called a Lactation Consultant (L.C.) if they are registered with the IBCLC. Many L.C’s have other qualifications, e.g. Midwife or Health Visitor, some will work with the La Leche league.

Why would I need to see a Lactation Consultant rather than my G.P. or Health Visitor?

Often NHS professionals will be very helpful with breastfeeding issues. However, very few in the Surrey area are trained to IBCLC level and therefore do not always have the necessary expertise to help with all breastfeeding issues. Also some practitioners are not supportive of a woman’s choice to breastfeed and will suggest artificial milk without fully exploring all the options/ solutions first.

A Lactation Consultant will have more time to spend with you, which will enable her to observe and assess both mother and baby as well as a whole feed, which is essential for diagnosing problems and suggesting solutions. Sadly many Midwives, Health Visitors and G.P’S do not have that time available to them, however well-intentioned and supportive of breastfeeding they may be.

A Lactation Consultant will act as part of the team of people that care for you and your baby, and would liaise with your G.P. regarding any treatment that may be necessary. You will of course continue to see your Health Care Team for ongoing monitoring of the baby’s progress and development.

When is the best time to get help?

It is usually best to find help as soon as you experience difficulty. This is because many breastfeeding difficulties can be resolved fairly easily in the early days. If left for too long, problems may become harder to resolve (though not impossible) and the emotional and physical energy needed to resolve such problems can be hard to find when things are feeling very difficult. Also early problems can often be resolved within one consultation, where later situations may require more intensive help.

Why does it hurt so much?

Breastfeeding is painful for some people. There are a number of possible reasons for this.

Initially, in the first week sore nipples can be purely the result of muscle stretching within the nipple to position it correctly in the baby’s mouth. However any pain associated with squashing, blistering or bruising of the nipple is NOT normal, and help should be sought to prevent worsening of these symptoms. Other women find the ‘let-down’ sensation uncomfortable, while still others may be experiencing Thrush symptoms.  

The anatomy of the baby’s mouth is key too, and some babies have tongue tie, or an unusually shaped palate, which can cause pain.

If breastfeeding is causing pain, it is worth seeking expert help to prevent the situation becoming worse.

Why would I go to a breastfeeding cafe?

A breastfeeding cafe is a supportive and friendly environment where women can feed their babies while enjoying a chat and coffee. Expert help and advice is available, as well as the opportunity to share experiences and practical solutions found by other women who are also breastfeeding. A recent study showed that women who attend a breastfeeding cafe are more likely to breastfeed for longer than those who do not receive any additional support.

There is a small charge made at the Breastfeeding Cafes to cover refreshments and costs.



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