Learning to breastfeed can be difficult at first.

Should you have a lactation consultant?

Many new moms assume that breastfeeding will come naturally, only to get discouraged when it isn't as easy as it looks. You have to learn specific techniques to help your baby latch on and feed properly, and these can only be learned from someone with more experience in the area.

Until recently, that someone was assumed to be a mother, grandmother or aunt who could teach the next generation to breastfeed by offering her wisdom. Nowadays, however, it's becoming more common for new moms not to have someone in their immediate family who can teach them to breastfeed. A lactation consultant can take on that role.

"Breastfeeding can be hard, especially if you have nobody to ask questions to or turn to for support. It can be scary when you don't know if you are 'doing it right,'" certified lactation consultant Alissa Gomez-Dean told Parenting Magazine.

However, lactation consultants aren't just for first-time moms. They can also help women who have given birth several times before get used to breastfeeding in their current situation. Maybe their body has changed since they last breastfed, or maybe they have negative associations with it that they would like to get rid of. Any of these problems can be tackled by a certified lactation consultant.

The time when a lactation consultant is the most useful is immediately after birth, when mom and baby are still just getting to know one another. Getting in a breastfeeding rhythm can be difficult, and having an expert's advice to call on can help you through this taxing time. 

To find a lactation consultant in your area, contact Breastfeeding USA or the La Leche League.

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