The Breast Experts
Photo: ABC Maternity
Do you get the feeling that everyone wants to talk about your breasts? When it comes to pregnancy and breastfeeding, there are a lot of experts out there who can offer assistance in all areas of breast health. There are also people out there masquerading with credentials that don't indicate much actual knowledge. Here's your breast expert primer:
Breastfeeding Specific Folks:
CLE: A Certified Lactation Educator is someone who knows quite a bit about normal, healthy breastfeeding and can offer education about how healthy mama and baby can give breastfeeding a go. They also offer training about pumping, going back to work, tandem nursing, and common complaints. A CLE is a great first-line of defense when you're not sure where to go with a question because they agree to a professional code of non-judgement. Think of this person as a personal trainer for breastfeeding.
La Leche League Leader: A LLL Leader is a woman who has breastfed at least one baby for 12 months and has significant training and education about supporting other women. While some education is part of the role of a LLLL, the other aspect is support. Breastfeeding can be emotional as questions and concerns arise, particularly as it relates to family support of breastfeeding, questions about breastfeeding in public, and cultural considerations. This is a volunteer position filled by women who have a strong passion for breastfeeding. Think of this person as a life coach for breastfeeding.
IBCLC: An Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant is someone with two years of academic training and thousands of hours of hands-on experience working with women with breastfeeding problems. Some are employed by hospitals and breast-pump rental centers, and others work as independent contractors. They specialize in difficulties, whether baby was born early, there are medical concerns, multiple babies, infections, or concerns about supply. They know how to support women with medical problems like engorgement, mastitis, hormonal challenges, a history of breast surgeries and even adoptive mothers who want to breastfeed. Think of this person as a physical therapist for breastfeeding.
RN, LPN, BSN, MSN, NP, PA, MD, DO: These are nurses and doctors with varying levels of medical training. Unfortunately, breastfeeding isn't covered very well in nursing or medical school. Unless you know where your nurse or other practitioner trained, you don't know how much support they may offer for breastfeeding. If you're not sure, always consult an IBCLC as well. Formula companies often offer professional development for these professionals, but because they are selling a product that is not consistent with exclusive breastfeeding, they may not teach techniques that could help preserve or work towards exclusive breastfeeding.
CNM: A certified nurse midwife should be a better bet when it comes to breastfeeding information and support, because there are specific courses in CNM school that support healthy breastfeeding.
CPM, ASM, BSM, MSM: A direct-entry midwife also has more training when it comes to breastfeeding as all accredited programs for midwifery in the US require breastfeeding training and support.
PPD: Postpartum Doulas are trained in supporting normal breastfeeding as a part of their practice. There are two organizations who offer this credential, and both require significant study of healthy breastfeeding.
Bra fitters: Ok, you might laugh, but you're going to need some "support" when it comes to your changing body. While you can simply go to a department store and buy a nursing bra or top, this is one time in your life when it would be very helpful to work with someone. I know if you live in Colorado Springs you can get fitted at Baby Cotton Bottoms and only need two bras to take you from 16 weeks pregnant through nursing! A couple of quality bras (and possibly some nursing pads) can be worth the price when they keep you as comfy as possible.
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I'm one of those people who loves making your life easier (and I believe in you). I am an experienced registered prenatal yoga teacher and a lactation educator.
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