What happens when your IBCLC leaves (the truth about my magic boob-wand)

IBCLC home visit

Imagine, please, that something is wrong with you (I’m sure this isn’t the case- you are a special snowflake and perfect in every way, but indulge me here).  Either you are in pain or you are ill.  You’ve been suffering for a week or two or a month or two, and have read every link on the first page of Google about how to fix your problem, but nothing helps.  So you make an appointment with your doctor.

When you get to the appointment, the doctor sits with you and figures out what’s wrong by using their clinical knowledge and vast experience.   And poof, they fix your problem.  You walk out of the office miraculously cured, pain-free, feeling like a new person, ready to take on the world.

jumping on beachWow, Doc! You fixed me right up! I’m gonna go jump on the beach in TIGHTS I’m so happy!


Is that not what normally happens?  Is it ridiculous to assume you’ll leave that visit problem-free and back to “normal”– instead do you expect to have to treat the problem for at least a short period of time in order to fix it?

Now think about a home visit with an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant).  Let’s be honest here- nobody calls me to come to their house and work with them because breastfeeding is going just great and everything is perfect and they want to tell me how easy it is.  I don’t see the people with the babies who latch perfectly fresh out of the womb and never cause their parents any pain or anguish.

(Those people do exist and I do hear from them- but they don’t book me for home visits!)

No, you call me to come help you because you’re at the end of your rope.  You’re worried, or you’re in pain, or you’re exhausted and convinced that something is wrong.  You’ve already googled “sore nipples” or “breastfeeding pain” or “slow weight gain in breastfed baby” or “how to ditch the nipple shield” and it’s not enough.  You need professional help from someone who has lots of experience with nursing, and you need it as soon as possible.

breastfeeding boobful Charlie

When your pediatrician starts asking you questions you have no way of answering…

So I come to your house and I sit with you and laugh with you (and sometimes cry with you) and we figure out what’s wrong.  I give you a plan.  I (literally) pat you on the back and tell you I’m working with you on this, and I leave the house.

That’s when the real work comes in.


Here’s the real work- the part I can’t do for you.

I hesitate to admit this, I really honestly do, but I don’t have a magic wand.  Or a crystal ball.  Certainly not a miracle pill that will fix your nursing problems immediately.

What do I have?  Oh, lots!  A ton of tricks up my sleeve, a fresh pair of eyes, years of experience as a breastfeeding helper in my community, a graduate degree and an international certification in lactation.  I have so much knowledge about this- but if you’re calling me, odds are you’re dealing with a problem that can’t be instantly fixed.

This is why I provide unlimited phone, email and text follow-up for the 14 days after our visit- because you’ll be working really hard and I am here to support you, cheer you on, and tweak our treatment plan as needed.

Some people say that it takes as long to fix a breastfeeding problem as it did for the problem to develop.  So if you’ve been dealing with nipple pain for two weeks, it takes two weeks to get rid of it once you’ve begun working on fixing the underlying issue.  Others say that fixing nursing problems tends to be two steps forward, one step back.

I say that the three of us (you, baby and me) are a team, and we are in this together.  That every day, if you work the plan, things will improve— though maybe some days will be a big change and others will be small.  And in two weeks, if you follow the plan we make together and keep in contact with me, you will see positive changes.  I have seen incredible things happen in two weeks!  I can’t promise you that every breastfeeding problem can be solved in two weeks, but more often than not, my clients are seeing huge results and improvements by the time our 14 day window is up.

Remember, I’m your number one cheerleader and I want you to succeed- however YOU define success. You tell me your nursing goal and it’s my honor to help you meet it.  I probably can’t fix your problem 100% during our home visit- but know that when I leave, I’m not really gone.

Your work is just beginning, and I’ll be cheering for you every step of the way.

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