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Where moms turn for help when breastfeeding isn't working

Where can Mom go for help when baby is not breastfeeding well?
Where can Mom go for help when baby is not breastfeeding well?
Ken Johnson

When a new mother in Fresno begins her breastfeeding "career" in the hospital setting, she can usually count on at least one brief visit to her hospital room by a lactation support person. That visit may or may not include some basic education and encouragement, and may or may not involve an assessment of her latching technique. The visit often occurs in the morning, amidst many other interruptions of the day, such as photos, labwork, doctor visits, and vital signs checks. There may be some fatigue factored in as well, since baby's first few nights are often restless, making it difficult for Mom to absorb all of the information provided to her. In short, the hospital-based lactation support that a new mother receives may very well fall short of her needs. It is quite common, then, for new mothers to seek help with lactation issues after their hospital stay, even if they were doing fairly well during those first couple of days.

Depending on the severity of the breastfeeding problems or concerns, there are a number of different resources that Fresno women turn to when they need lactation support. For general questions and guidance, they may simply ask a trusted friend or relative who has walked the path before them. For basic questions, this choice is fine, yet it can be frustrating when she asks 5 different friends and comes up with 5 different answers to her question. Generally, friends and relatives mean well, but are not basing their advice on any real evidence. For slightly more detailed support, a mother may turn to La Leche League, which provides regular meetings a couple times each month. Many women find the support of these meetings very helpful when breastfeeding is going well, because it helps strengthen their resolve to continue nursing their babies. The meetings offer an opportunity to discuss the value of nursing with like-minded women. But, because the meetings are focused on group discussions, there may not be quite enough support in this setting when things are not working well and more individualize care is necessary. Sometimes, a mother will ask her pediatrician for help when breastfeeding is challenging, and if there is lactation support provided in his or her office, such as at Kratzer Pediatrics, she will get the help she needs. However, most pediatric offices do not have a lactation provider on the premises. The best that can be offered may be the doctor's own advice, with limited hands-on help.

Recognizing these limitations, when a mother's lactation needs exceed the basic guidance that she can get from friends, relatives, La Leche League, or her physician's office, her doctor will often refer her to an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant for more specialized help. There are several good consultants at Fresno Community's Mother's Resource Center, but some moms struggle with taking the baby out to a clinic setting for assistance. These mothers benefit from in-home lactation care, where the stress level is lowest, and the most complete care can be provided. Fresno has one Lactation Consultant who makes house calls, so there is always help available for even the toughest lactation problems.