Last Sunday's New York Times Style section featured an article painting doulas and lactation consultants in a pretty unflattering light. I've posted the section about lactation consultants below.
When 33-year-old Melissa Malka’s twins were in the neonatal intensive-care unit after being delivered at 33 weeks, a lactation consultant urged her to have tubes delivering formula through her babies’ noses removed in favor of an intravenous feed to deliver nutrients, against the advice of her neonatologist. Intravenous feeds carry a high risk of infection for premature babies, but some lactation consultants fear that babies will develop a taste for formula and then reject breast milk.
“She was so intent on avoiding formula,” said Ms. Malka, from Olney, Md. “I was very upset with her, but that’s their standard — breast is best.”
Pumping around the clock with no milk to show for her efforts, Ms. Malka sought the help of four lactation consultants, but they couldn’t remedy the problem. When she consulted her obstetrician, she finally learned that she was unable to produce prolactin, a hormone vital to milk production. “You would hope that L.C.s would be well versed in this type of thing since they’re focused purely on the breast,” Ms. Malka said, using the shorthand for lactation consultants.
The breast-only mentality can also put off today’s participatory husbands. Kenneth Cain, a 42-year-old writer in New York, said his wife’s lactation consultant was “a nightmare.” In December, after he and his wife decided supplementing with formula for their one-month-old baby might not be such a bad thing, they turned to a lactation consultant for advice. “All we got was this ideological diatribe on the merits of breast-feeding,” he said. “It was like talking to a Marxist about an international trade deal.”
Obviously I'm a little biased because I'm a lactation consultant, but back in 2006 when we polled readers about your best sources of support for breastfeeding, lactation consultants came in second after husbands/partners.
So I'd like to hear from you about your experience with lactation consultants. Good, bad, indifferent?