Episode 10: Mechanical vs Chemical: Spotting the Difference and Making A Difference

first100hours lactation mindset podcast tonguetie Feb 18, 2021
Graphic image for episode 10 of The Lactation Training Lab Podcast about mechanical and chemical problems of lactation

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Episode 10 of The Lactation Training Lab Podcast gives you a system to sort through lactation problems: are they mechanical or chemical? Taking you on a journey from core marketing messages for formula all the way to helping people with primary lactation insufficiency re-define their own lactation story, I'm showing you how I look at a lactation issue and break it down into its elements. I'll remind you why it matters that we have a huge workforce of untapped potential in the lactation field, and you'll even get some homework at the end!

I've wanted to talk this through with you, my podcast audience, for a while, and I'm so glad I did! Thinking about lactation problems as mechanical or chemical has really helped me to sort through complex scenarios and to become a much more effective lactation consultant.

Before I understood the mechanics of tongue tie and suck dysfunction, I wasn't really clear on how they would impact lactation long-term other than to cause pain for the lactating parent. I knew that could lead to switching to full-time pumping for some people when the pain was unbearable or the nipples couldn't heal. I knew that others would use a nipple shield, and for still others, unresolving nipple pain would lead to a transition to full formula feeding. 

I didn't know that there are chemical implications to pain which go beyond a person's entirely subjective and outward response to pain. I didn't know that unresolved pain can lead to compromise of milk production. 

I knew that repeated bouts of engorgement or mastitis could compromise long-term milk production, but I wasn't really understanding why. 

Here's what I DID know: that galactagogues do not work if you don't solve the root cause of the milk production problems. So I kept asking why and reading and studying. 

What I came to realize was this: most lactation problems are mechanical in nature. Poor latch, suck dysfunction, oral anomalies, bodily misalignment, too much milk backing up inside the chest/breast - in my mind, these are mechanical things that are going to involve mechanical answers, like better infant positioning for feeds, bodywork, referral to an ENT or speech therapist, etc. 

Some lactation problems stem from medical issues that cause primary lactation insufficiency. 

But secondary lactation insufficiency - I was taught that our field needed to focus on a global approach to the ever-increasing numbers of this outcome by improving how we teach lactation management. 

Now I realize that in my experience, many cases of secondary lactation insufficiency are NOT caused by poor lactation management. They are caused by an unresolved mechanical lactation problem, such as a poorly-fitted flange on an electric breast pump or a missed tongue tie or a baby with severe torticollis. 

Check out the episode for more about this approach! 

Feedback or questions? Email them to [email protected] anytime! 

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