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Why many new moms need the support of an in-home lactation consultant

This baby's long term breastfeeding success may depend on an in-home lactation support system.
This baby's long term breastfeeding success may depend on an in-home lactation support system.
Photo courtesy of L. Radcliff

After a new mother gives birth in a Fresno or Clovis hospital, there will likely be some general support of her first breastfeeding attempts while she and baby are in the hospital. Oftentimes, the labor and delivery nurse can advise the new mom on basic latch on principles, and should also encourage her to begin the first feeding soon after the birth. Once both mother and baby have recovered for an hour or so, they may be moved to a postpartum room, where another nurse may assume their care. These postpartum nurses will hopefully provide additional evidence-based information about the baby's latch, feeding frequency, and other basics of breastfeeding. In most of this area's hospitals, a brief visit from a lactation specialist may also occur sometime before mom and baby go home. During this visit, there may be a check of the latch, as well as brief discussion of some of the common problems that may occur along the way. The mother's obstetrician or the baby's pediatrician may also provide input about breastfeeding prior to discharging them home.

With all of these hospital-based breastfeeding interventions, it may seem that the mother and baby couplet are destined to succeed in breastfeeding as they head home. But statistically, this is not the case. There is an overwhelmingly large number of women who initiate breastfeeding at the time of their baby's birth, but who resort to formula feeding by the time they are arriving home from the hospital. The truth is that most new mothers and babies need additional and more extensive support and assistance in order to achieve  breastfeeding success. Sometimes, women report that while they received the input of many different practitioners in the hospital setting, this input was at times conflicting and confusing. As one mother reflected back on her experience she said, "One nurse would say to hold my baby this way, and the next one would tell me a different way. After a while, I didn't know what to do."  Additionally, many of the challenges arise just when moms are at their peak of postpartum fatigue, so the idea of continuing the breastfeeding plan seems overwhelming.

This is why it is crucial to provide new mothers with a  breastfeeding resource to turn to after they return home from the hospital. When focused, personalized lactation support arrives at the appropriate time, things can easily be turned around for the better. In Fresno, there are various breastfeeding resources serving the needs of local mothers and babies, ranging from La Leche League meetings to the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant who makes house calls. Once mom and baby have settled into their home again, with all of its familiar comforts, their ability to focus on breastfeeding is often strengthened, so the in-home lactation support is typically more effective than other attempts which may have occurred along the way. The important thing to remember is that when breastfeeding is not progressing as it should, quality help is important to obtain, and this service is definitely available in the Valley.