When to Call a Lactation Consultant

If nursing isn't working, don't give up -- get in touch with a lactation consultant, who can help. Here's how.

Introduction

Heather Henson had trouble breast-feeding her son, Daniel, almost from the moment he was born. "The nurses kept shoving my breast into his mouth, saying he'd eventually get the hang of it," recalls the Brooklyn mother. "But Daniel would gag every time." Just hours after being discharged from the hospital, he became yellowed with jaundice, made worse by lack of fluids; the next day, he was readmitted with dehydration. Henson's doctor wasn't much help: He referred her back to the nurses, who merely suggested an instructional video she'd already seen.

Henson was at a loss until she hired a lactation consultant, a professional trained to help mothers with breast-feeding questions and difficulties. The consultant spotted two problems at once: Henson's nipples were flat, and Daniel wasn't sticking his tongue out far enough to latch onto her breast. The consultant gave Henson a nipple shield, which allowed Daniel's sucking to lengthen her nipple, and demonstrated how to massage the baby's jaw and gums to help extend his tongue. Within a month, Daniel was breast-feeding unaided; by 2 months of age, he'd doubled his birth weight.

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