A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Lactation consultants: Breastfeeding care before and after childbirth

As an expectant mother, you may research breastfeeding, or read a few baby books on tips and tricks for what to expect. However, because breastfeeding isn’t always easy, Marshfield Clinic Health System and other health care organizations provide patients with lactation consultants.

What is a lactation consultant?

Baby sitting in mother's lap laughing - Lactation consultants

Lactation consultants are experienced in giving breastfeeding support.

International Board Certified Lactation Consultants® (IBCLC®) – in other words, trained and certified breastfeeding specialists – help you breastfeed your baby in normal and challenging situations.

In addition to lactation education, a lactation consultant is a specialist who has passed the IBCLC® examination. The examination program is accredited by the U.S. National Commission for Certifying Agencies. IBCLC® can work in a wide variety of health care settings including hospitals, pediatric offices, public health clinics and private practice. All of the IBCLCs at Marshfield Medical Center in Marshfield also are registered nurses with obstetrics background.

What can lactation consultants provide?

At Marshfield Medical Center in Marshfield, all patients who are breastfeeding meet with one of our lactation consultants, as do families of newborns in our neonatal intensive care unit in Marshfield Children’s Hospital. Marshfield’s lactation consultants are available six days a week and coordinate care with nurses, OB/GYN providers and pediatrics to make sure you and your child receive the care and education you need.

Each patient receives individualized care based on their needs, medical history, education, experience and family support,” said Jessie Richardson, lactation consultant at Marshfield Medical Center in Marshfield. “No situation is similar. We start by learning about our patients and tailor to them.”

Marshfield Medical Center-Eau Claire has 12 inpatient care certified lactation counselors (CLC®), who support and counsel on breastfeeding. The hospital also has Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM), who are available for lactation support in the inpatient and medical office settings.

“We provide lactation visits at day four or five postpartum, and continued follow-up as needed through additional visits and phone support to answer questions or concerns,” said Katie VanDreese, certified nurse midwife at Marshfield Medical Center-Eau Claire. “We are available to support and assist breastfeeding mothers with any challenges including prenatal planning, establishing milk supply and baby learning to latch, and concerns anytime during their breastfeeding journey.”

Nurse practitioner and lactation consultant Taura Maraia, N.P., at Marshfield Clinic Chippewa Falls Center, also provides lactation support, and she does visits for her community.

Lactation services include, but are not limited to:

  • Prenatal education that explains normal behaviors to expect from breastfeeding babies.
  • Initial assessment at the hospital.
  • Care coordination with other health care providers as needed.
  • Follow-ups prior to discharge from the hospital.
  • Assistance with position and latch-on challenges.
  • Assistance with potential milk supply challenges.
  • Assistance with concerns about infant intake and weight gain.
  • Education and assistance with breast pumps.
  • Assessment and management of breast and nipple problems, such as engorgement, sore nipples, breast pain, mastitis, breast augmentation and reductions.
  • Addressing return-to-work issues.
  • Addressing weaning issues.
  • Finding support groups in your area.
  • Ongoing assessments following discharge.

Telephone support also is available through the Breastfeeding Warmline (Marshfield Medical Center in Marshfield) at 1-800-991-8412, or for Marshfield Medical Center-Rice Lake patients at 715-236-6176, and for Chippewa Valley patients at 715-858-4646.

A lactation consult is planned for all inpatients, but Richardson said outpatient and follow-up care is an important part of being a lactation consultant. Services are provided at no charge to inpatients.

“We can be consulted to provide care in any unit – pediatrics, PICU – or a maternal consult if mom is having surgery and currently breastfeeding,” she said. “After discharge, patients from rural areas can call for further assistance over the phone as resources may be limited in their area.”

Extending service to pediatrics

For families following up at Marshfield Children’s, lactation consultants are scheduled to see new families at the first clinic visit after hospital discharge.

This service is an extension of the lactation care received in the hospital. Oftentimes, mothers feel supported while in the hospital with their baby. After discharge home, support seems less available. This appointment helps reassure new families and allows plenty of time for questions. If problems occur, the lactation consultant can work with you one-on-one to help meet your feeding goals. For more information on this service, please call Marshfield Medical Center’s Lactation Services at 715-389-3903.

All questions are welcome

No question is too silly when it comes to lactation consultants. Richardson said there are many misconceptions about breastfeeding, and lactation consultants are there to answer your questions and educate on what to expect.

Whether you want to know why you aren’t producing more milk, what medications are safe, or if you can breastfeed when you are sick, lactation consultants can help.

“It’s not a common profession, but it’s necessary,” Richardson said. “We are here to help you.”

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