Really. Give the boob lady some love. She deserves it.
We have a lovely thing here in Allegheny County. As part of the Healthy Start program, they offer a Breastfeeding Help Line. Most maternity patients in this area come home from the hospital with a nice packet of propaganda--sadly, much of it from formula manufacturers. But one thing that's almost always included is the big red heart-shaped refrigerator magnet with the phone number for the hotline. And sister, it does get used!
For the uninitiated, a lactation consultant is like a breastfeeding coach. As past generations of women reinforced the taboo against breastfeeding, young mothers who wish to try are often finding themselves without an experienced support group. In a perfect world, communities of female relatives would help a new mother...but hey, it ain't a perfect world.
You'd think that the theory is easy enough (baby + breast = nursing success) but it's so much more than that. It's a learned talent for both partners (mother and child). It can be physically very demanding, mechanically very baffling, and an extreme emotional drain (especially if the mother is *discouraged* from breastfeeding by unsympathetic others). I personally know a few women who gave up out of frustration early on, who might have stuck it out if only they'd had a friend who was there to give advice or comfort.
Beyond that, lactation consultants are experts in their field. Even women who have successfully nursed a number of children still run into questions or problems, and it's nice to have someone knowledgeable to call for advice. Who do you call when your newborn has a painful latch? When you suspect that the two of you may be developing thrush? When you have a low supply and want to increase it? The lactation consultant!!
Today I spoke with Diane, who was friendly and funny and more than willing to look up the pharmacology information for a number of drugs (both prescription and OTC) that my PCP recommended for a lingering illness I'm battling. She didn't give me a flippant "oh, don't worry" like my doctor had. She actually sat there on the phone and looked up each drug, then read me the full entries for each as it pertained to my concern. She reassured me that each would be safe, and went a step further by giving me side effect information for myself, so that I can be proactive in countering these potential problems. She did not treat me like an idiot or a worrywart or a beginner. It was just two women working out the answer to some concerns in a frank manner. It was precisely what I needed.
I've used the hotline twice before, with equally satisfactory results: once for advice on battling mastitis and once with a question about illness-induced dehydration and supply issues. Each time, the consultant on duty has had quick and informative answers and has been friendly and comforting.
Thank you, ladies. I'm glad you're there.