Join Club Momme for exclusive access to giveaways, discounts and more!

Sign up

Why You Should Fire Your Lactation Consultant

You hear it over and over again: If you want to succeed at breastfeeding, you need to seek the help of a lactation consultant. I strongly disagree. In fact, the stressful and often conflicting advice of these “experts” is the reason I didn’t succeed with my first son. And now, nine months into my second breastfeeding journey, I can safely say that less is more in the way of expert advice. That’s not to say I don’t think you should just totally wing it and struggle alone; in fact, peer support has been a huge help to me this go around. And I’m not implying that there no place for expert help, it has simply been my experience that many lactation consultants, though well-intentioned, are not particularly helpful.

First of all, I feel as though they tend to approach all breastfeeding challenges as problems that must be fixed. When in reality many mothers often just need reassurance that they are doing a good job and that it gets easier. They expect exhausted and emotional new moms to pack up baby and make it to a sterile office where they are to perform and then promptly grasp an often complicated set of maneuvers to improve said performance. It’s all so darn stressful.

RELATED: Top Breastfeeding Problems and Their Solutions

Add to that the fact that lactation consultants have a reputation for being militant: Breast is best, no ifs, ands or buts! I contend that you are a mother, not a martyr, and breastfeeding should not be a torturous experience. Doling out guilt and strict advice never helps a new mother; there isn’t one right and perfect way to feed your baby. If a mom is seeking help with breastfeeding, she is obviously hoping to succeed, so there’s really no need to make them feel horrible for struggling or supplementing.

All of this conflicting and misguided information left me feeling overwhelmed and mistrustful of any help. I ended up switching to bottles much earlier than I’d hoped, and I struggled for a long time with feelings of failure and guilt.

Moreover, lactation consultants aren’t always all that knowledgeable; after all, an online course does not make someone an expert. When I was at a peer lactation support group, a very sweet woman was sitting in because she was training to be a lactation consultant. That woman had no children of her own. Really? That’s like teaching someone to swim when you’ve never stuck a toe in the water.

They also aren’t on the same page, even when they work at the same hospital. I had one consultant watch my son latch on and go after my boob like a Dyson and then say that he wasn’t sucking vigorously enough. I had another one say my son latched too often, and then proceeded to give him a pacifier. A third had me totally flipped when my milk hadn’t arrived on day two, only to cause huge oversupply issues on day four. All of this conflicting and misguided information left me feeling overwhelmed and mistrustful of any help. I ended up switching to bottles much earlier than I’d hoped, and I struggled for a long time with feelings of failure and guilt.

RELATED: 19 Celebrity Quotes About Breastfeeding

When I was pregnant with my second son I decided that I wasn’t going to try to force a perfect breastfeeding experience. I didn’t need the perfect latch, rigid feeding schedules, or concern about supply. As long as my baby was eating, wetting diapers, gaining weight, and I wasn’t in excruciating pain, I’d just keep doing it. I told all of my nurses that I knew what I was doing, and I didn’t let anyone examine my latch or record how many minutes each feeding lasted. When I had a concern, I turned to friends and a peer support group, locally and online, for guidance. As a result, I have a happy, chubby breastfed baby, and I am a happy, relaxed breastfeeding mama.

So if you’re hoping to have a positive breastfeeding experience, my advice is to kindly decline all that expert help at the hospital. Trust your body, be gentle with yourself and seek the support of other breastfeeding mothers.

Image via Twenty20/terji58

More from toddler