Professional lactation support as an important, integral part of the maternal-child health care services we offer at Bon Secours. Mary Helen Kappler, RN, IBCLC, LCCE has been kind enough to discuss what it is like to be a lactation consultant in our Richmond market.
“A lactation consultant is a health care professional who helps new moms with overcoming breastfeeding challenges and provides breastfeeding education to expectant parents,” she shares. “Lactation consultants assist new moms overcome challenges with breastfeeding and provide emotional support. They work in a variety of settings including hospitals, clinics, physicians’ offices and private practices.”
She adds that many of her fellow Bon Secours lactation consultants are International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC), which is the highest certification and the only internationally recognized credential in the field of lactation. Mary Helen has been a lactation consultant for the last 30 years, with 14 of those years being with Bon Secours.
“I was able to breastfeed my three children and I really enjoyed the experience. At that time, there was not much support for breastfeeding moms. I was attracted to becoming a lactation consultant because it enabled me to provide new mothers with additional support. In particular, I pursued the IBCLC certification so I could be with a new mom right at the start of her breastfeeding experience – at the bedside, in the hospital after the birth of her baby and part of the larger hospital maternity health care team.”
What Mary Helen enjoys most about being a lactation consultant is providing information to new parents through our prenatal education breastfeeding classes.
“It is a wonderful experience to interact with parents in this exciting time,” Mary Helen shares. “I feel that these classes help get expectant parents off to a good start and empower women to feel confident in pursuing breastfeeding for their babies. We also address issues that arise after breastfeeding has been established, like returning to work while breastfeeding and pumping strategies.”
Some breastfeeding tips and advice that Mary Helen has for new moms is, “being a new mom can be wonderful and challenging all at the same time. Don’t be too hard on yourself if breastfeeding feels challenging at first. Seek help from a professional instead.”
Here are some additional tips:
- Take a breastfeeding basics class before the birth of your infant
- Immediately after birth, do skin-to-skin contact with your infant. Research has shown that breast-fed babies nurse better if they have this skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth.
- In the hospital and at home during the early weeks, it helps to have your baby in the same room as you.
- Breastfeed at the first signs/cues of hunger – do not wait until the baby cries.
- Breastfeed your baby at least eight to twelve times a day including during the night. Newborn stomachs are small so that is why they need to feed often.
- The more milk that your baby takes, the more milk your body will make.
- Keep track of your baby’s feedings and output during the first few weeks.
- If you have questions or need help, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. Many breastfeeding issues can be resolved quickly.
- Ask family and friends for help so you can rest whenever possible and focus on feeding the baby.
Check out the “Classes and Events” section of our website to find one of our breastfeeding support groups near you.