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Breastfeeding Support Leads to More Success, Less Frustration

Breastfeeding can be a physically and emotionally rewarding experience for both mom and her baby. Nature’s first food provides perfectly balanced nutrition for baby’s first year. Yet breastfeeding isn’t always easy. Getting help and support from a certified lactation specialist can help you overcome breastfeeding challenges and sustain breastfeeding longer.

Lehigh Valley Children’s Hospital (LVCH), which is part of Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN), offers breastfeeding support from board-certified lactation consultants in the hospital and once moms go home. Inpatient consultants provide feeding support and education whether you choose to breast or formula-feed your baby. They also initiate your first feedings, and teach proper latch-on techniques.

Once you’re home, a lactation consultant from outpatient services will call to see how breastfeeding is progressing, and offer to see you in your physician’s office or answer questions over the phone.

“Breastfeeding is one of the first major decisions parents will make regarding their new baby,” says International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® Leila Nassar of LVPG Pediatrics–Pond Road. “It isn’t easy, but neither is being a mom. I feel a lot of compassion for new moms, because I had challenges, too.”

Some of the challenges a lactation consultant can help resolve are:

  • Pain due to improper latch-on
  • Engorgement in the early days following delivery
  • Insufficient milk supply
  • Physical issues such as flat or inverted nipples
  • Anomalies such as a baby who is tongue tied
  • Pumping, supplemental feeding and returning to work
  • Emotional support for moms and families

Overcoming challenges

Most breastfeeding issues can be resolved with support and education. LVHN’s board-certified lactation consultants and certified lactation counselors can identify if your baby is gaining enough, using a proper sucking/swallowing reflex, or is simply suckling on the breast as a comfort measure. They also assist moms who need help increasing their milk supply.

“We have lots of techniques to help women who want to continue breastfeeding but are having challenges,” says Sarah Van Zandt of LVPG Pediatrics–Trexlertown, who is also an international board-certified lactation consultant. “We want moms to be able to enjoy their new baby and feel confident no matter how they decide to feed their child.”

Nassar and Van Zandt recommend breastfeeding classes during pregnancy so moms know what to expect after baby arrives. Choosing a pediatrician or family practitioner who offers lactation support through their office also can help. Other tips include participating in a breastfeeding support group, which can provide emotional and social benefits to new moms that go beyond breastfeeding.

“Ask for help and take advantage of the support available to you,” says Nassar. “Breast milk is liquid gold. It provides vital nutrients to your growing baby no matter how long or how much you breastfeed. It’s totally natural, but it does require work.”