In my work, I meet many new moms who are breastfeeding their child. Many are aware or have had some education about lactation and what to expect. But in my experience, there are many moms who do not begin their first Motherhood experience with these tools. Knowing where to go for instruction on breastfeeding is important. For this blog, I interviewed one lactation specialist in the Los Angeles area who is available to provide support and training for new moms. You can find her on Instagram
Q: Let’s start with your name. What is your name? Tell us
3 or 4 things about you.
A: My name is Julie Matheney. I started my career as a speech pathologist feeding preemie babies in the hospital NICU but fell in love with working with breastfeeding mamas and now do that in private practice. I’m a mom to two little girls. My husband and I love to travel and now enjoy taking our girls on adventures with us.
Q: For those who may not know, what exactly is a
lactation consultation? Can you take us through a
A: There are several types of lactation consultant certifications, kind of like there are different kinds of nursing degrees, types of doctors, or fields in engineering. The gold standard for lactation consultants is an IBCLC. it means they have taken significant college level courses, spent hundreds of hours being mentored in breastfeeding and have sat for a four hour board exam. An IBCLC lactation consultant works with any and all issues related to breastfeeding, including helping people who have never been pregnant to induce milk supply for adoption, relieving breast infections, increasing milk supply, teaching you how to position your baby and helping your baby to latch properly at the breast. Lactation consultants can teach you about breastfeeding while you’re still pregnant and help work with you for the entire length of time your baby feeds from the breast. In a typical consultation, we review your relevant medical and labor/delivery history, see a feeding, and develop a plan for improving breastfeeding. We typically will weigh the baby before and after a feeding to get an approximation for how much baby is taking each time they breastfeed. An average consultation is an hour and a half.
Q: I know from being a newborn photographer, that
breastfeeding can be really difficult. In your view,
what are the most common issues that moms face
that you can help with?
A: Breastfeeding is natural but it takes practice. You’ve never done it before and neither has your baby. The most common issue is position and latch. So many people have never held a baby, let alone a newborn, and it can be intimidating to try to position them at the breast. So many moms worry they’ll hurt the baby when moving them. Babies are actually really sturdy! If you get a baby in the right position, the latch is quite easy. The second most common issue I see in my practice is tongue tie: when there is a small piece of connective tissue under the tongue preventing it from moving fully. Tongue tie can cause damage to moms nipples and limits the baby’s ability to remove milk from the breast. When less milk is emptied, less milk is made, so many moms think they have no milk supply and blame themselves instead of the baby’s inability to effectively feed.
Q: Breastfeeding is a huge issue.
Not only is there the issue about moms learning how to breastfeed and
or the baby to learn too, but there are also political
issues it seems. Are you involved in any political or
social activities to promote women in this work? Can
you tell us about it?
A: I’m not in any organized groups currently but try to spread the positives of breastfeeding through prenatal breastfeeding classes, awareness through social media, and working alongside individual mothers in their homes.
Q: In my work, I have seen moms seemingly torn about
breastfeeding...one the one hand, they know they
should, but on the other they are embarrassed or
feel awkward. Are these feelings common? Can
women find support for these feelings?
A: In my experience, 100% of mothers feel inadequate in some part of their motherhood journey. We take our responsibility seriously and with breastfeeding so often feel like a failure when it doesn’t go 100% perfect 100% of the time. Even when breastfeeding is going really well most mothers will find something they are unsure about. It is very very common to feel inadequate. You are not alone. The best place to find reassurance in your abilities is in a local breastfeeding support group where you can find other moms going through the same thing.
Q: What is the number one question you get from new
A: I get asked all the time if moms need to wait for the breast to fill before feeding their baby. This is not needed. In fact, the beast works opposite of that: the more it is emptied, the faster it actually fills. The breast works on demand. The more it’s emptied the more it will make. There is no need to wait to feed your baby. If you are concerned about your milk supply, it is best to schedule an appointment with an IBCLC to help you get back on track.
There is a lot to know about breastfeeding. This short interview is just the tip of the iceberg. Start today by visiting LALACTATION and schedule your consultation.
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