What is a Certified Lactation Counselor?
A certified lactation counselor is a woman experienced and specially trained to help mothers and babies that are having difficulty nursing. She answers both simple questions and helps solve more complicated problems. Certification happens through a 45 hour training program and a 3 part test must be passed. Keeping herself in the learning process and up to date with information is part of staying certified. Women who get into the field of breastfeeding usually do it because they have a sincere desire to help others and because breastfeeding is close to their own hearts.
If you are struggling with breastfeeding, just call for some help!
When do I need help?
Most women have questions about breastfeeding, the first few weeks, around 6 months, and when they are thinking of weaning the baby. Lactation counselors can be a big help during these times, especially if you are the first person you’ve known to breastfeed, or if the others you’ve known to breastfeed experienced unresolved problems, nursed a shorter period of time than you, or just don’t know how to help. Sometimes moms get conflicting information from different people.
The following are times when you really should seek help from someone with knowledgeable experience in breastfeeding:
- If you are having sore nipples. Slight tenderness is normal the first week, more pain than this, or painful nipples coming after a period of painless nursing, is not.
- If your breasts are red, streaked, painful, or you are running a fever with a tender breast
- If your breasts are so full the baby can’t get on or your can’t seem to get much milk out
- If you baby has only rapid, shallow, nibbling type of sucking
- If your baby is not gaining weight
- If baby falls asleep at the breast and wakes soon after, asking to nurse
- If baby is not nursing at least every 2-3 hours, falls asleep at the breast and doesn’t wake easily
- If in the first 3 weeks baby is not having at least 3-4, silver-dollar-size stools in a 24 hour period.
- If baby still has dark green stools after 5 days of age
- If baby is having less than 5 good, wet diapers after 5 days of age
- If you are were told to supplement and now you are using more formula than you would like, or the baby is starting to refuse the breast, or your baby is not tolerating the formula you started.
- If you have questions about your milk supply at any time during the first year
- If you or your baby are struggling with your return to work and breastfeeding
- If you have questions about breastfeeding while you are pregnant
- If you aren’t sure how to go about weaning (cold turkey is not the right way!)
What will the CLC do to help me?
When I first work with a mom she is usually on the phone with me. I find out everything I can about what is going on. I ask a lot of questions to clarify. I offer reassurance and solutions to the problem.
If I can answer your question in 10 -15 minutes then I probably don’t need to see you. But, if it sounds like a latch-on or position problem it’s usually best if we talk in person. I meet you at home or you can come to my home and we spend an hour or a little longer together.
I look at how your baby is latching, see how you are holding her/him, show you some new ways to do things to make nursing easier, teach breast care, and review how to tell that the baby is getting enough. Sometimes an in person visit makes all the difference. I’ll usually follow up with you or ask you to call in a day or so to find out how you and your baby are doing.
Why ask Ellen for the help you need?
I learned the true value of support when my first daughter was born and I struggled with breastfeeding and the needs of a very young baby. Without the daily encouragement from my own mother, I would have had great difficulty in being successful. My nipples were very sore, it seemed that just about the time she was done nursing it was time to start over again, I was so tired and I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have anyone to ask for breastfeeding help. With the support from my Mom, determination, and a couple a good books, I got through those first tough 6 weeks and went on to nurse my daughter for 2 years.
I had some obstacles myself after those first weeks even with my kids who were born later, such as too frequent night waking, biting problems, thrush, and plugged ducts. I had questions like: How do I manage breastfeeding while I’m out and about?, When is the right time to wean?, and How can I help my baby concentrate on nursing, she’s so distracted? I even wondered if I had enough milk to keep nursing at 3 and 6 months.
I really understand how confusing it can seem, all the while you just want to do your best for your baby. Moms worry, we examine details, sometimes we over think, sometimes we just get overwhelmed. I’ll help you get it all sorted out, pointed in the right direction, and settled in with the knowledge you need to succeed.
I started helping women with breastfeeding via the WIC program in 2000 after my 3rd baby was born. It was then that I was certified in lactation counseling and I’ve helped hundreds of women become successful with breastfeeding. I’ve helped moms with a wide variety of problems, and situations. I will refer you to a Lactation Consultant, your physician, or pediatrician, or other professional if your problem is beyond my ability to help.
I’ve got a soft touch and a warm heart. I really care if you are doing well. It is such a rewarding experience to see a mom find her balance and become successful nursing her child.