Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Principles of Lactation Management

I took a break from "regularly scheduled blogs" to say goodbye to my dad.  He was so influential in my life, that if you know me, you know a part of him.  Just another reminder that life is short and we have to love people while we have a chance.  I apologize to those of you who endured my dry spell and thought I had abandoned this project.  I am getting back on track slowly, so let's start with lactation management.

This is a really broad topic and one people will see as an introductory to Lactation.  Often this provides an overview for many aspects of lactation.  One course I looked up on Principles of Lactation Management stated, "Participants will be able to counsel families about the benefits of breastfeeding, assist the mother in managing common breastfeeding problems, make appropriate referrals, teach breastfeeding classes, prepare breastfeeding materials, and support breastfeeding through breastfeeding friendly policies and procedures."  Which confirms my theory that this is almost all-encompassing.

Several of these topics will be handled individually, but let's look at them briefly here and I will give you some resources to get the big picture, then we will get more specific in later blogs.

Counseling on the "benefits of breastfeeding" should really be changed to "risks of formula feeding."  We try to be so positive that we do not accurately portray risks to the infant and mother if we do not do what is natural and veer away from what we were designed to do.  I liken it to Vitamin D.  We need the sun and if we never get sunlight, we will be deficient in Vitamin instead of a casual "benefits of Vitamin D" we talk about the "risks of being deficient" sends a different message.  Our language when we counsel is often as important as our words.  Risks can be found everywhere, but keep up with the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine or the AAP to get the newest research

"Common breastfeeding problems" would be the problems that fall within lactation educator's scope of knowledge and expertise.  These are the reoccurring issues that we should have a pretty good handle on.  If you need to read up on these, pick up a La Leche League Breastfeeding Answer Book or Counseling the Nursing Mother  You are going to read about engorgement, sore nipples, latch, mastitis, thrush, weight gain, feeding patterns; both of these books present this information well and are great resources to have in your library.  You are not going to get too deep into any of these issues as an overview.  Do not try to master every breastfeeding problem right away.  Experience helping moms solve individual problems will be your best education.  Sometimes you find that a "normal" protocol will not work and the confidence and insight you gain by finally coming to a resolution will be exhilarating!

Remember not to practice outside of your scope.  Refer, refer, refer.  Just a couple of referrals we all need to have access to are PPD (this is the most widely read blog on PPD).  Know local resources for moms as well.  Of course, for medical purposes, refer back to Ob/Gyn or pediatrician.  Support groups are another necessary referral...feel free to add referrals to this blog.  I also have a list on my website; and welcome additions there as well.

It is a good idea to develop breastfeeding classes.  This information can be used for one-on-one teaching, or group education.  Just about every IBCLC I know is also a teacher or has to teach on occasion.  As a Lactation Consultant, you will be the expert in your field and called on to share at conferences, staff meeting, schools, etc.  WIC has some good classes, and I will be adding some outlines to my website later for those of you who need a starting place to help develop a curriculum.  In the meantime, keep notes of things you hear and bookmark websites that you trust as good resources.

Lastly (for this topic), be aware of what "Baby Friendly" is and familiarize yourself with The Who Code of Marketing Breastmilk Substitutes.  If you work in a hospital or clinic...look closely at your policies and protocols, do they promote breastfeeding?

This should give you some things to ponder and organize until my next blog.  Keep me posted on your progress and feel free to share additional advice and recommend this blog to others who may be on the pathway to becoming an IBCLC!

1 comment:

  1. thanks for the info. It's so true about the need for PPD referrals- in my experience, the OBs don't help when it comes to screening and referring so this is a huge thing for lactation professionals. thanks for the PPD site- I'm bookmarking it. Very helpful!