I asked her if there was a reason she couldn’t just have the BABY resolve the plugs, as they are much more efficient than a pump at emptying a breast. She explained about the transfer issue. I asked her whether she had had her latch evaluated lately. She said that she had a month ago by the LC at the hospital, but no, not recently. I asked her if she would mind letting me take a look at her latch, that it was possible that I could help get the baby back to the breast. She said that, yes, she would be willing to do that. I had a family commitment most of the day Saturday, and my family wasn’t home right then, so I asked whether I could come right then, as I’d like to get those plugs resolved right away if we could. She excitedly said yes.
Within about fifteen minutes of being there, the baby was latched well and draining the breast. The mother looked at me in amazement and said, “You know, the LC spent TWO AND A HALF hours with me and didn’t fix anything. When I asked if I should call LLL, she said, ‘Oh, no, they don’t have the TRAINING to handle something as extensive as this.’ It seems that she was wrong. How is it, though, that you know how to fix this and she doesn’t?”
Here’s where the snobbery and politics come in. *sigh* A LC CAN know her stuff. The problem is that they might not. Typically a hospital based LC is a nurse who wanted to make a little more money and so did a correspondence course to earn her credentials. Again, this does not mean that she is bad…just that she may never have breastfed her own baby at all, and if so, was likely to have breastfed for a short time only, as is the case with most women in the US. She may never have had any hands on training.
A La Leche League Leader must have breastfed at least one baby for at least one year. Right there, we have an element of “yes, I’ve been there, I know, it’s really hard, but it can be overcome.” Second a LLL Leader must go through extensive training, which involves hands on training, dialogue with a state level trainer, and weekly meetings with their sponsoring Leader. There is also an extensive list of books they must read and be able to comment on intelligently. The training typically lasts at least a year, and ends with an oral exam face to face with a sponsoring Leader, to be sure that the Applicant can problem solve and support mothers effectively.
The gold standard for breastfeeding support is an IBCLC, or an “Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant.” If the LC doesn’t have the “IBC” before the “LC” she is NOT the gold standard in breastfeeding support. An IBCLC must have 4-5000 hours of hands on training before she is allowed to sit for his or her exam. One of the pathways to becoming an IBCLC is to be a LLL Leader for five years, as the International Board considers the work a LLL Leader does to be hands on training. An IBCLC is who I would go to if I could not fix a problem (and couldn’t get in touch with Jack Newman, who tends to be very available by email) and had tried everything I and other Leaders in my network could think of and research to do so.
It makes me sad that there is apparently “class warfare” going on when it comes to breastfeeding support. Why, when the hospital based LC could not fix a problem, did she not think LLL could at least give it a go? Or, why didn’t she seek help from an IBCLC? Is her hubris so great that she cannot ask for help, and the health and well being of a baby is worth her saving face? How sad. L
In the end, it just so happens that a LLL Leader WAS trained (in this case through continuing education with Jack Newman) to deal with the transfer issue. And you know what? This baby is EXCLUSIVELY fed at the breast now, and is continuing to gain weight…after a month of her mother pumping and bottle feeding. And if I couldn’t fix the problem, I care enough about mothers and babies and their breastfeeding relationship to continue to look for an answer for them. Friends, if you cannot find a LC who can help you, please, PLEASE do keep looking. Call LLL first (they are free), and then if they can’t help seek an IBCLC. It is likely that you CAN find a fix for your problem.