by Dezarae Weyburn
I recently had an experience with my car that reminded me of the importance of talking to the right person for the job. My car had started overheating. Being the stubborn person that I am, I tried to deal with it myself at first. I bought more coolant and filled up the reservoir. Three days later, it was overheating again. I did that a few more times and then my car needed to be registered. When I took it to a local tire and lube shop to do the emissions test and registration, I asked them to change my oil and check on the coolant situation.
The employees did the oil change and the emissions test, but said that they could not find any leak in my system. They let me know that they topped off my fluid because I was low. Frustrated, I went home and wondered why I kept overheating and losing fluid. The “mechanics” hadn’t found a leak but I still felt like something was wrong. I shrugged it off and drove my car as usual.
Within a few days, my car was overheating again. I finally called up to a mechanic friend of mine. He is a master technician who has been working on cars most of his life. He has college degrees in science and technology as it relates to Automotive.
The car was in the shop for roughly 15 minutes before he had pinpointed the issue and started working on a plan to get me back on the road. I had spent months being frustrated but he had diagnosed it in 15 minutes. The money I had spent on coolant and at the other shop was wasted, just for the expert to find and fix the issue quickly. I cursed myself for not going to the expert immediately and for being so “self-sufficient” that I sabotaged myself.
Choosing your help
We all do this to a point. I cannot tell you the number of people I talked to about breastfeeding issues when I worked at Babies R Us. They were doing everything they could to make it work, except for calling the breastfeeding experts: IBCLCs. IBCLCs (Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultants) are experts in human lactation and infant nutrition. I refer to them often. I talk about them extensively in the breastfeeding class I teach, and yet people still reach for lactation teas, lactation cookies, nipple shields, and pump around the clock…
Some even call the hospital lactation lines. They talk to their pediatrician about their breastfeeding issues. Some even have their baby’s tongue ties clipped in the pediatrician’s office, in an attempt to save their breastfeeding relationship.
Hospital lactation counselors mean well. They are truly trying to help women breastfeed successfully. And for an uncomplicated, straightforward case, they can be a great resource! But when you run into trouble, they are like the lube techs at the tire and lube shop. They are really great at basic maintenance, but not so great at diagnostics.
Pediatricians are fantastic pathologists. If your baby is sick, they are the people you want on your team. They are not required to be experts on infant feeding. They are not the authority on breastfeeding. And unless they’ve done some special schooling, they are not the person you want dealing with your baby’s tongue tie.
A resource I often refer clients to is Dr. Ghaheri, the expert in North America for oral restrictions. He’s based out of Oregon, but his website and Facebook page share amazing and evidence-based information about oral restrictions. He often talks about how posterior tongue ties get missed by pediatricians. Pediatricians do not have the training to fully release a tongue tie, and even if they did, the breastfeeding dyad should still be working with an IBCLC in the meantime.
Why an IBCLC? You may have seen people calling themselves certified lactation consultants. While they definitely have more knowledge of breastfeeding than the average person, they do not have the specialized skill set IBCLCs boast. IBCLCs are the master technicians of infant feeding. They are the ones that can pinpoint and help fix the issue quickly. If you are having breastfeeding trouble, that is who you want to see.
What about choosing doulas?
If you’re looking for affirmation and support throughout your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum, you really want to hire a doula. Midwives and OB/GYNs are fantastic for taking care of your physical health, but no matter how amazing they are, they have so many things to do to ensure your health and safety during your birth that they may not be able to sit with you and give you the support you need. Labor nurses are amazing, and they want to give you a wonderful birth experience, but they have other patients to check on and charting to fill out.
Doulas don’t leave you alone. We can be at your side, explaining procedures, physically supporting you, and taking care of your needs throughout your entire labor. Because doulas are not medical providers, we are able to focus expressly on your comfort and experience.
I was able to attend the Utah Doula Association annual conference a few months back, and Dr. Shoshana Bennett was one of the presenters. I found it very interesting that the leading expert on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders claims that doulas decrease the incidence of postpartum depression by 50%. As someone who has experienced postpartum depression, this news is huge! No other professional can do so much to lower your risks. I often see, and even said myself, comments like, “Well, my mom/best friend/sister/aunt will be there, so I don’t need a doula.”
Moms are awesome. They love you so much and they want the absolute best for you. Best friends, sisters, and aunts care about you and want to see you happy. Sometimes, they want this so much that it impacts the way they support you. Labor can be painful. It’s common to experience pain during the birth experience. Sometimes it’s really hard for your family and friends to see you in pain. They might encourage you to change your plans due to their own discomfort.
Doulas always support the choices that you make. Sometimes, it comes down to choosing your expert.
Don’t go through life regretting putting off that choice until it was too late.