Breastfeeding is a natural part of life and sometimes new mothers need some help learning the skill.
Janelle Amyotte, a registered nurse and international board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC), helps women learn about breastfeeding and answers any of their questions during a clinic at the McIntosh Mall from 1 to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays.
Some of the main concerns she has dealt with are having difficulties with the eight to 12 feeding per day, the baby not gaining enough weight or worrying if things aren’t comfortable or are hurting.
“Unfortunately people believe breastfeeding can be uncomfortable in the beginning and it doesn’t need to be if it is working well,” she said. “I just think it is important that they come out and see people who have the expertise to fix what’s going on and help them out.”
Unfortunately the culture we now live in contributed to breastfeeding issues.
“We have lost breastfeeding as a part of culture and part of that is because of the nursing in public thing,” Amyotte said.
In the past, the first time women were breastfeeding they had already seen their family members nurse.
“The first time you hand your baby a spoon, they know how to use it because they have watched everyone eat with a spoon,” she said. “The first time you hand a mom their baby, if they have never watched someone nurse and have only seen a mom with a bottle or a mom wearing a blanket, they don’t know what to do.
“Although it is a bit instinctive, because we have lost it a little bit culturally and your mom and aunt and your grandma and everybody can’t help you because maybe they were from the generation where they were told formula was better, then now we need people to bridge that gap again,” she added.
“That is the job of an IBCLC is to really be the expert who can pick out the little things that are going wrong that maybe tiny shifts in position or change in latch or identifying a tongue tie and sending them to an expert who can make all the difference in the world to someone’s nursing experience.”
Breastfeeding is a learned process, Amyotte said, which contradicts what many people believe.
“It might be instinctive for more mammals we think and because we think we overanalyze and because we overanalyze, sometimes it just takes someone reminding you that you are doing fine,” she said. “A huge part of my job, the biggest part of my job, is to say that is completely normal infant behaviour and you are doing awesome. I am mostly a cheerleader.”
There are other clinics put on during the week by the Maternal Visiting Program, but the public health clinic is unique.
“That one is staffed by an international board certified lactation consultant, which is myself, and every Monday and Thursday at South Hill Mall is staffed by the Maternal Visiting Program, which are registered nurses,” Amyotte said.
“Anyone can call themselves a lactation consultant but you have to have the letters IBCLC after your name to be an international board certified lactation consultant,” she explained. “It is about a three to five year process to earn that designation. You have to have over 1,000 hours helping moms and over 90 education hours and you have to continually upgrade your education.”
Although Amyotte is the only certified lactation consultant in the health region, she said there are people in a variety of disciplines working towards their IBCLC.
The breastfeeding clinics are held for a number of reasons, but they are primarily hosted to give moms a place to ask questions.
“For ourselves, on Tuesdays, it is a place where moms can come with more serious concerns,” Amyotte said. “Maybe babies aren’t gaining weight adequately, maybe mom is concerned about her milk supply, maybe baby has a tongue-tie or a lip-tie -- we correct a variety of breastfeeding issues. We are trained in breastfeeding management.”
They will give about an hour-long consult to new moms so they can help them work through problems and get referrals from doctors, the Maternal Visiting Program and through the post-partum calls.