Should I seek lactation support before my baby is born?

I work with many clients who choose to seek lactation support before their infant is born. This may be because they themselves or their infant has a predisposed medical condition that may pose potential breastfeeding challenges and needs to be addressed, or they are interested in getting as much information as possible to set themselves up for breastfeeding success. It is true that the act of breastfeeding is instinctual but the learned process can sometimes take time and often requires practice. We often hear that it is “normal” for a mother’s nipples to be sore, or even cracked in the beginning weeks of their breastfeeding career as it is considered the time in which the nipples have to “toughen up.” Fortunately, this is not necessarily true, and can be avoided with prenatal lactation care. And fortunately, discussing and practicing latch and positioning with someone who knows the ins-and-outs is important to ensure comfort and ease of breastfeeding from the beginning.

An important aspect to consider in getting prenatal breastfeeding care is that each year more and more breastfeeding information and research comes out and often debunks older “facts” or theories. There are more colleges, universities, research centers, etc. that are constantly researching different aspects of breastfeeding in order to provide the most up to date, evidence-based information. It is not uncommon to hear a breastfeeding myth and take it as factual. This is because traditional information has been around for many, many years and old habits (information) can die hard.  Fortunately, with the support of a lactation specialist the new, evidence-based information will be given and the older information will be phased out.

As I have previously mentioned, certain medical conditions and health history factors can make breastfeeding slightly more challenging or complicated. It is always a good idea to consult with a breastfeeding professional before baby is born to not only have a plan in place but to receive support for potential interferences. These potential interferences are not limited to the mother’s health history but may include infant’s health history, as well as past breastfeeding experiences. I have outlined some of those conditions and health history factors below:

  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
  • Fertility problems
  • Multiples (twins +)
  • Diabetes (gestational, type 1 & 2)
  • No noticeable breast changes during pregnancy
  • Minimal breast changes at menarche (age of first menstrual period)
  • History of breast surgery or augmentation
  • Previous injury to breast(s)
  • Knowledge that infant will have a congenital or genetic condition
  • Hormonal imbalance(s)
  • Current or history of depression or anxiety
  • Pregnancy induced hypertension
  • Planned cesarean

If you or your infant has a condition listed (or not listed) above that you would like support around, consider seeking advice from a lactation professional prenatally to help develop a thoughtful breastfeeding plan.

As you can see not only are unknowns eliminated with prenatal lactation care but the thoughtful support a mother receives from a specialist is monumental. The more support for the breastfeeding dyad the more she will trust herself, her body and her infant throughout this process which allows for a long, successful breastfeeding journey.

 

Links to evidense-based research:
KellyMom
Stanford School of Medicine

© 2016 Megan Maltby, Lotus Lactation, LLC