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8 Ironclad Reasons to Fire Your Lactation Consultant

Sign that reads "Time to Say Goodbye." Is it time to fire your lactation consultant?

Maybe you saw a recent episode of A Million Little Things where the lactation consultant was negative, spoke over the mother, and shamed her for not calling sooner. The show missed a huge opportunity to demonstrate how beneficial a good lactation consultant can be. Understandably, real-life lactation consultants probably felt insulted by this portrayal of their role. Yet, like in every profession, there are bad apples. But unfortunately, many mothers just put up and shut up with what they call “nipple Nazis”. That’s not necessary. I can give you 8 ironclad reasons to fire your lactation consultant. 

Your lactation consultant does more talking than listening.

Uh-oh, this is a big red flag! A major part of the lactation consultant’s (LC) role is listening to your story, your perceptions, your frustrations, and your aspirations. An LC who is not doing that is not doing her job.    

Your lactation consultant doesn’t ask you what YOU want.

Decades ago, in her book, Changing Childbirth, author Diony Young quoted a young mother who said, “It took me days before I realized that the baby belonged to me, and not to the hospital.” That’s such an excellent example of how mothers can feel disempowered.

In almost all cases, breastfeeding is a parenting decision, not a medical decision.

This is your baby, and your body. As a parent, breastfeeding is likely to be the first of many thousands of decisions you’ll make that reflect your parenting choices.

Professionals need to ask what you want and then respect your parenting decisions. If they don’t, they cannot possibly help you to raise your child in a way that aligns with your values.

Do not hesitate to fire a lactation consultant if who doesn’t ask you what you want.

Your lactation consultant cannot individualize their plan.

I admit, I have my pat answers or my go-to solutions that I know always work. Yet, there are life circumstances which make that go-to solution inappropriate for this mother, this baby, or this family. It might be an evidence-based, proven strategy! But in some circumstances, it’s just not realistic, or it’s culturally distasteful to the family.

If your lactation consultant’s toolkit has only one tool, that’s just not enough.

Your lactation consultant has some version of mommy-shaming.

None of us wants to feel shamed for what we’ve done or haven’t done. Yet, these days, with so much pressure to breastfeed, it’s easy for well-intentioned lactation consultants to fall into the trap of shaming the mother.

Does your lactation consultant make you feel bad about yourself if you have chosen not to exclusively breastfeed? Or, how about if you want to pump and feed, or if you want to quit nursing before your baby is six months old? How does the LC respond if you say you want to do mother-led weaning? By the way, it’s not just the words used in response to your stance or behaviors on these topics. It’s how you feel when you hear the words.

Perhaps “shaming” isn’t the descriptor you’d use. Many mothers have told me stories about feeling intimidated, disrespected, and shamed by their lactation consultant. But if you feel like the comments are rude, condescending, belittling, disempowering, or anything else that makes you feel bad about yourself, it’s time for you to fire your LC.

Heaven knows, there’s enough mommy-shaming in the media! You don’t need any more from the lactation consultant.

Your lactation consultant issues commands instead of making suggestions.

I admit, this is tough for an expert. After four decades, frankly, I usually know what will work, and what won’t. But when I stand there and issue commands to the mom, I’m missing one big piece: I’m not in her body!  I don’t know what feels right in her body, or in her head!

The difference in verbiage may be subtle, but it’s important. Consider these two sentences.

“Here. Watch this. Do this. This will help you baby to [fill in the blank.]

“Let’s see what happens [or how the baby responds] if you do this.”

If you feel like you’ve heard more commands than suggestions, it’s time to fire your lactation consultant.

Your lactation consultant is more passionate than proficient.

This scares me. Most lactation consultants have passion. Many, but not all, have proficiency in problem-solving.

If you and your baby are mostly healthy, your lactation consultant should not need more than two visits to solve a breastfeeding problem. However, if you or your baby have a serious structural or functional problem (such as a congenital condition or a hormonal disruption or any other number of not-normal issues), that will take longer.

Start to wonder about her problem-solving abilities if the majority of “solutions” focus on equipment, devices, gadgets, fads, galactagogues, and far-out ideas. (I remember a mother telling me she had to fire her lactation consultant because she told her to do “Tarzan pumping” as well as some other odd practices.)

Problem-identification and problem-solving is a major role and responsibility of every lactation consultant. If you have one who can’t help you, or who doesn’t refer you for additional or alternative professional help, it’s time to fire your lactation consultant.

Let me just say it out loud:  Unless they have prescriptive privileges, an LC is not educated or legally authorized to determine the drug’s risk/benefit. If you are considering taking a drug, an LC cannot pronounce it “safe.” (Note: It’s okay if the lactation consultant confirms or reinforces or reassures you that your already-prescribed drug is safe.) The IBLCE’s Scope of Practice makes it clear that the LC can give information; that’s very different from determining risk-benefit for an individual dyad!

You just don’t click.

Admit it. You’ve found doctors, lawyers, accountants, 3rd grade teachers, soccer coaches, clergymen and others who are fully capable of doing their jobs and getting great results. But you just don’t click with them. I get it! I do.

Maybe you fired the person. Or, if you’re honest with yourself, you wanted to fire the person, but you didn’t have the courage to do so. Or, if it wasn’t possible to fire the person, you simply avoided that person as much as possible.

It’s never easy or pleasant to fire someone. I’ve fired employees, doctors, and others. And, believe me, it is pointless to wait until it gets “easier” to do the firing — it never will!  Just step up and fire your lactation consultant if they aren’t the right person for the job. There are plenty of others whom you can hire.

Have you been in a position where you wanted to fire your lactation consultant? Did you? Share your experiences below!

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