4 Things Lactation Consultants Wish More Baby and Mom Providers Learned to Teach Parents During Pregnancy and the Postpartum Time

Recently I discovered a newly published blog post featured on the “What To Expect” website. Titled “5 Things Pediatricians Wish More Women Learned During Pregnancy” I was surprised to find this article to be especially demeaning to women. It assumes no responsibility for the medical team treating mom and baby, but instead, blames the lack of knowledge on the mom.

Any new parent will tell you, they depend on their baby’s provider to give them good and accurate information about feeding their baby, sleeping with their baby, and taking good care of themselves. But as an experienced lactation consultant who has seen the results of what some providers teach these new parents, I have created my very own list. Here are 4 things lactation consultants wish more baby and mom providers learned to teach parents during pregnancy and during the postpartum time.

1. Your patient might have trouble breastfeeding and if they do, there are lactation consultants who can help. Yes, there are great benefits to breastfeeding and that’s why it would be great for you to know a little bit about it. Since you most likely haven’t taken any classes on breastfeeding, it would be best for you to refer your patients to someone who has. We know you mean well, but sometimes in your effort to help, you give inaccurate advice and make things worse. So, please refer your patients to a qualified and experienced lactation consultant.

2. In direct response to the orginal article’s second point – “There are really ‘four trimesters’ in pregnancy”. Yep! Four  trimesters! I had a client tell me she didn’t realize she should have prepared herself for the marathon she’d have to run after her baby was born. The postpartum time can be tumultuous. Hormones are fluctuating, you’re sleep deprived, and you’re trying to figure out how to be a parent. The Center for Disease Control estimates that 8-19% of women will experience some kind of postpartum mood disorder . That’s why it would be great if the baby’s and the mom’s providers were knowledgable and had good resources.

3. From my direct work with new moms, I know for a fact that crying to both the baby’s and mom’s providers is common and many providers aren’t equipped with the knowledge to know what to do.  There are counselors who specialize in this postpartum time and there are groups for moms to attend. There is also the Perinatal Support of Washington website that has lots of information available on the topic. By the time a mom goes to her 6 week appointment with her doctor or midwife, a lot has happened. She may have already decided she’s a failure because she can’t feed her baby the way she wants, she may still be dealing with an emotionally and/or physically traumatic birth, she may already be having relationship problems, and she may feel like she’s in a dark tunnel with no way out. This is a key time for the baby’s and mom’s providers to have helping handouts with some good resources ready to give to moms in these sensitive times.

4. No one can prepare a new parent for the sleep deprivation. It is cumulative and seems unrelenting. It would be great if every baby provider would visit and review Dr. James McKenna’s Safe Cosleeping Guidelines. This background knowledge could help the new family find the time to get a little more sleep and feel less guilty.

There’s no question that the postpartum time is one of the most difficult and wonderful time in a parents’ life. If a parent is feeling sad and guilty and full of negative emotions past about three weeks, please refer to one of the recourses on this blog and just know there’s lots of help out there for you. You are not alone!