I’ll start with what an IBCLC is. It’s an “International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.” This means that they have gone through over 90 hours of education including baby development, pre and post natal care, anatomy, biology, and more. Many, also have their RN as well, which means they have additional medical training and have worked as registered nurses in some capacity over the years! I will add, not all lactation consultants are created equal. But more about that in a bit.
Many people believe that since breastfeeding is, “natural” that it is somehow easy, not painful, or women and babies just inherently know how to do it. That is simply just not the case.
After having Athena, I had horrific pain nursing. Everyone told me it always hurts in the beginning so I pushed through. At about 8 months I was having discomfort and pain again. I called our lactation resource number at the hospital I delivered at. The woman on the other end of the phone refused to see us, and insisted over the phone that I had thrush. She told me to use Lotrimin and if it wasn’t better in a few weeks to call back. Mind you, Lotrimin is not safe for consumption. And so I began digging.
That is when I discovered the world of IBCLCs. I realized that I had been in so much pain because Athena had a lip tie, and more than likely a tongue tie as well. I learned that a little discomfort in the beginning is normal, but excruciating pain that makes you not want to nurse is not.
Athena and I had a great 18 month run on our breastfeeding journey. I went into baby #2, Eleanor, armed with so much more knowledge, confidence, and the power of knowing I would call an IBCLC as soon as necessary.
When Eleanor was born, from her very first latch I knew it was shallow and I was going to have to contact an IBCLC. She was a little early, a bit on the small side, and I tried to give it 2 weeks to see if things would adjust. They did not.
I ended up with mastitis between an over production of milk and her inability to empty my breast. I made a virtual appointment with Bree and it was the best investment I could have ever made. Between Bree, and Athena’s speech therapist, we all were pretty certain she had a significant lip tie. Bree gave me some tips as far as positioning, balancing moving milk through production and trying not to over induce more production. She assured me that everything I was doing was on the right path.
We made an appointment with Po Dentistry in Lancaster, PA. They clip ties with a laser which cauterized, and is extremely quick and fairly easy. At that time Dr. Baird confirmed that Eleanor had a class 4 lip tie, which more or less meant that her lip was fused to her top gum, keeping her from splaying her lip to be able to latch correctly. She also had a class 2 tongue tie. Beyond breastfeeding, a tie this bad could have implications as far as eating, speech, as well as oral development. You can read more about infant Frenectomy here. They applied a numbing cream to her lip and under her tongue before doing the procedure that took less than 10 minutes start to finish. Dr. Baird, who did the procedure, was honestly one of the sweetest people I have ever met. She made sure Eleanor nursed before we left. She gave me a ton of information, answered questions, and was just so kind. Later that night she called to check in on us, and then sent a text about a week later. She also encouraged me to again touch base with my IBCLC, which I did, and continue to do. I’d never felt so valued and taken care of, not just as a patient, but as a person.
IBCLCs are incredible. Bree is an amazing resource. Her instagram is equal parts educational and hilarious. She hosts a podcast Breezy Babies: Boobs, Babies, & Breastfeeding. Bree also provides infant massage, personalized pumping plans, and more!
Some of my other favorite IBCLC resources: