A reprint from our recent Winter Newsletter.
This is a chance to shine a spotlight on other health professionals osteopaths work closely with. First up is lactaction consultant Alicia Davidson. Professionally, osteopaths see babies who have trouble attaching and feeding. The first thing we check is if they can turn their head to both sides, and if they can open their jaw fully. Sometimes this is restricted due to a long labour or the baby not being free to move around in utero. We also look out for tongue ties and refer such cases to lactation consultants.
If there are no structural issues, breastfeeding can be like riding a bicycle - some women take to it more naturally, others (like me) wobble and struggle initially. It usually gets better with practice, although sometimes it is too much and you decide to use another means of transport. Alicia is better equipped to answer breastfeeding specific questions than me!
Q: What do you do?
A lactation consultant (LC or International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, IBCLC) is a health professional qualified in the clinical management of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding often goes well with early midwifery support but if this has been lacking or big challenges arise, this is where some specialist support can help. We are available antenatally (especially if a woman has an unsuccessful breastfeeding history) with newborns and right throughout a woman and baby’s breastfeeding "career". Positioning and attachment are important components of our work to ensure baby is comfortably on the breast and getting the most milk she can to ensure optimal growth, preserve milk supply and to encourage this to be a rewarding experience for mother and babe. We work in hospitals, with Maternal and Child Health services and in private practice.
Q:When should someone seek help?
An LC can be of use for reassurance about the basics of position and attachment, right through to more serious problems of blocked ducts/mastitis, painful feeding, damaged nipples, low milk supply, thrush or concerns about babe’s weight gain. Support in feeding twins (or more!) or assistance with inducing lactation for adoptive parents are also areas an IBCLC has expertise in.
Q:What do you enjoy most about your work?
A:My favourite aspect of this work for me is the the practical problem solving that we do every day! Nutting out an issue between an individual baby and mother brings much stress relief to a new parent. When you see that become enjoyment, and therefore a more empowered mother, this is hugely rewarding. Breastfeeding is the norm biologically for human babies but it is more than the provision of milk; it is deeply connecting for a mother and baby and a brilliant way to begin your relationship with your child.
You can find out more about Alicia at mumsmilk.com.au