Breastfeeding is normal, but that doesn’t mean that it always comes naturally. There’s no shame in struggling with breastfeeding, and you shouldn’t hesitate to get help if you need it. Finding someone who really knows how to help you can be tricky, though: most health professionals (even pediatricians!) are not really trained in breastfeeding support and do not know how to manage breastfeeding problems. This is a guide to some places where I would recommend you look for breastfeeding help:
SACLCs are medical professionals (nurses, doctors, dietitians, speech therapists and so on) that have a postgraduate, university-accredited qualification in breastfeeding management. This is the best professional qualification offered in South Africa. The only drawback is that it is still a fairly new qualification, so there are not yet SACLCs in all areas. If you can get hold of an SACLC, however, you can be sure that you will get excellent help.
At the moment, the easiest way to find and SACLC is via the Expectant Mother’s Guide. They don’t have all the information of all the SACLC’s though, so if you cannot find someone in your area, contact one of the SACLC co-ordinators you will find on the SACLC Website, and they will help you to get in touch with an SACLC in your area. I have also been informed that they are in the process of uploading the details of all the qualified SACLCs onto the website, so you will soon be able to find an SACLC in your area directly from the website.
IBCLCs are internationally considered to be the experts in breastfeeding and all related matters. Although not all IBCLCs have a medical background, they have to pass a rigorous exam to be accredited, and have to continually update their training to remain accredited. As with SACLCs, there are not nearly enough IBCLCs in South Africa, but if you are lucky enough to have one in your area you can be sure that you will get excellent quality breastfeeding help.
You can search for an IBCLC in your area on the ILCA Website.
LACSA is a professional association for Lactation Consultants in South Africa. At the time of this writing, their website was still under construction; it should be up and running soon, so please do go have a look. You can also find them on Facebook. LACSA can direct you to both SACLCs and IBCLCs.
Non-professional (but nevertheless excellent) help
La Leche League (LLL) is a mother-to-mother support system for breastfeeding mothers. LLL is run by leaders, all of whom are or were breastfeeding mothers, and all of whom receive extensive training in breastfeeding. LLL leaders are some of the most knowledgeable breastfeeding support people I have ever encountered. They will be able to offer you better breastfeeding help than almost any medical professional (other than a lactation consultant, of course).
If you need help with a breastfeeding problem, you can contact individual leaders by phone or e-mail. You can find a leader on the LLL South Africa Homepage. Some leaders will also come visit you at your home, but there are not leaders in all areas. LLL is a non-profit organization, and they do not charge a fee for helping you.
LLL South Africa has a very active Facebook group where you can ask questions and receive answers from leaders as well as from other breastfeeding moms. I would definitely recommend that you join this group. Even if you never have a problem that you need advice for, it is very encouraging to have so many people “on your side”, and you can learn a lot from the answers to other members’ questions. They also have an excellent collection of files that address all sorts of issues.
A final word
I will be updating this page periodically as websites change and new resources become available. If you have used any of the people I recommend above, please leave a comment and tell us about your experience.