What is an IBCLC, anyway?
If you’re new to breastfeeding lingo, IBCLC stands for International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. An IBCLC specializes in the clinical management of breastfeeding. They do this by helping moms establish and sustain breastfeeding.
These credentials -- IBCLC -- mean they have passed the standardized board exam for lactation experts and are equipped to advise and support breastfeeding mothers. This applies to those who need minimal guidance, those who require much more extensive help with specific issues, and everyone in between.
Basically? They are breastfeeding experts.
Who can benefit from an IBCLC?
Every. Breastfeeding. Mother. Yep! Every single one.
First time moms can use a crash course in all of the basics, like understanding the mechanics of breastfeeding, varying nursing positions, how to set up and use a breast pump, and how to avoid common breastfeeding issues.
Seasoned moms know that each child is different, and by default, each breastfeeding relationship is unpredictable! Whether it's a supply issue, a latch problem, recurrent thrush or mastitis, or another potential downfall, your IBCLC is prepared to help you navigate obstacles as well as regular ol' daily breastfeeding life.
When do I meet with an IBCLC?
Many expectant mothers choose to take an introductory breastfeeding course during pregnancy to help lay a good foundation. These are often offered at local hospitals and taught by an IBCLC.
After your baby’s delivery, you can request a consultation with the on-staff IBCLC before you leave the hospital. (In fact, we recommend getting hands-on help for as many nursing sessions as possible while you're there! You might as well take advantage because they will not be coming home with you. Bummer! We know.)
Once you’ve been discharged from the hospital, you can always set up an outpatient appointment at any time. These appointments are incredibly valuable for staying on track and nipping (we had to) any arising issues in the bud before they derail you.
The first 2-3 weeks of your breastfeeding journey is considered the “calibration phase” and this is a critical window for setting the tone of your breastfeeding relationship. Make plans to have at least one lactation appointment, during your hospital stay or afterwards, within the first two weeks of delivery.
*Some pediatrician offices have an IBCLC on staff, and those appointments will be integrated with your regular newborn check-ups.
What can I expect from an IBCLC?
She will be your own personal breastfeeding advocate. Your coach. Your cheerleader. A wealth of knowledge and wisdom. A shoulder to cry on and a friend to celebrate with! This unique type of support is crucial to the success of your breastfeeding journey.
If you've ever wondered about the significance of an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, we hope we've cleared that up for you and helped you understand how vital they are to you as a breastfeeding mother. If you're curious about how to find one and more importantly - how to find the right one, stay tuned for Part II in this series coming soon!
Still in need of a breast pump? We can help! Just start here.