The Future of Breastfeeding

Help is on the way for new moms in need of trained medical professionals who understand breastfeeding.


Breastfeeding is hard. And for most new moms, this is a startling reality after months of happily prepping for this new adventure—one which usually sends them scrambling around to find help. But don't be surprised if your doctor doesn't provide much help when it comes to breastfeeding, according to a new Time magazine article.

The United States is running low on providers trained to boost breastfeeding, but "there are more every day, as medical schools begin to adopt breastfeeding curricula," Time reports.

The article points out that "women can often feel that they are at fault, rather feeling like they are suffering from a medical issue for which they need and deserve professional help," because the complexities of lactation failure are so little studied and so often misunderstood. According to the article, doctors almost never tell nursing moms that there might be an underlying medical problem. Doctors usually advise them to go with formula if problems persist, or lactation consultants urge them to try harder.

However, doctors are now starting to study breastfeeding in a more prominent way. "The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine has developed 25 protocols to guide physicians in breastfeeding problems. They've successfully lobbied to include breastfeeding issues on the exams for the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the American Academy of Pediatrics," Time magazine reports.

Plus, let's remember that, as of August 2012, health insurance companies are required to provide "comprehensive lactation support and counseling, by a trained provider during pregnancy and/or in the postpartum period, and costs for renting breastfeeding equipment" thanks to the Affordable Health Care Act.

Experts note in the article that lactation dysfunction does not exist as a diagnosis, but medical problems make breastfeeding impossible without intervention. "We're in the early phases of what I'm hoping in the next five to 10 years [breastfeeding] will be more appreciated and more considered a real subspecialty," says Amy Evans, M.D., medical director of the Center for Breastfeeding Medicine in California, as quoted in the Time article.

So where do new moms look for help until these changes take place? A lactation consultant, most likely. Your latch will be the first thing that a lactation consultant will examine. Getting the proper latch can make or break your breastfeeding experience, so watch our step-by-step video of the deep latch technique for a closer how-to look.

Also, check out this expert advice on what to expect for breastfeeding those first 48 hours after birth.

Once you and your baby have made it through the initial period, you're likely to face other challenges or have different questions and concerns. Browse through our Breastfeeding Guide for the Whole First Year for tips to help you achieve the nursing success that's right for you.

Share! Whom did you turn to for breastfeeding advice/help as a new mom? Please tweet us your thoughts @fitpregnancy.