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Breast-Feeding Consultants

Breast-feeding’s resurgent popularity has given rise to the new profession of lactation specialist. The ideal person for this job would be your mother or an older sister. The specialist’s primary task is to hold your hand and give you the emotional support and guidance you need when things get rocky. Most breastfeeding problems, especially that of latching on, are caused by apprehension about doing it improperly. A reassuring presence can help you gain confidence.

Beyond the expert hand-holding, however, I take a dim view of their professional equipment and theories (this is all up to you – I personally think it’s a bit harsh…). In particular, if Lucy develops latching difficulty, a specialist might advise you to give poor Lucy sucking lessons with your finger in order to reeducate her “disabled” tongue. They might show you some awkward nursing positions that will likely make you even more anxious or hook you up to a “supplemental nursing system,” a tube that’s taped to your breast and connected to a pouch filled with milk. It’s completely unnatural for Lucy to suck from a tube, and not only will this bionic contraption teach her nothing about nursing, it also will discourage you further.

Last but not least, they might recommend clipping Lucy’s frenulum, the thin membrane under her tongue. This idea is based on an incorrect, mostly discredited belief that a short frenulum can cause nursing problems by creating a restrictive “tongue tie,” which is in fact just a normal variant in tongue shape. This costly surgical procedure won’t improve nursing either [See:Tongue].

Clearly, there is a market for the lactation specialist’s services. I’d still recommend a female family member or friend first, but if they aren’t available, you can hire a lactation specialist to come help out at your house, as long as she leaves her equipment at hers.