Expert Q&A: Breastfeeding and Speech-Language PathologyIn honor of Breastfeeding Awareness month, Leah Morton, MS, CCC-SLP, clinical educator at the Speech Language Institute (SLI) of Salus University, explained how speech-language pathologists (SLP) can help breastfeeding moms and provided some tips for parents of newborns.
 
Q: Tell me about an SLP's role in breastfeeding? How do they assist new moms?
SLPs typically work in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) setting to assist in feeding. We work closely with lactation consultants to introduce and optimize feeding in infants who could not feed at birth. We can also  to supplement the expertise of  a lactation consultant when there could be an anatomical or physiological issue with the baby's feeding development.
 
Q: What is cue-based feeding and how does it help parents?
Cue-based feeding involves reading your baby's hunger and satiation cues rather than measuring a feeding based on volume or hours between feedings. Formula feeding can lend itself to building routines around feedings and knowing how much or how often the baby eats. With breastfeeding, a mother can feed the baby on demand by reading the baby's cues and the duration and schedule may often vary.
 
Q: What are some of the most challenging issues for moms when it comes to breastfeeding?
A huge challenge for breastfeeding moms is the lack of support after they go home with the baby. Many moms don't know where to go when they meet a challenge such as difficulty latching or cluster feeding. The Breastfeeding Resource Center is an outstanding resource for the community. Clinical educators from SLI and Salus University SLP students work with moms and babies in their Mommy and Me groups at the Breastfeeding Resource Center, facilitating speech, language and feeding screenings. 
 
There are also great online resources such as La Leche League International llli.org and kellymom.com. These resources provide information on everything from what to expect in the early stages of breastfeeding through toddler feeding. In my own experiences as a breastfeeding mom, I have used all of the listed resources as well as trusted breastfeeding friends who helped me along the way. I would have been lost without the texts, phone calls, and visits from these supportive friends.
 
Q: How can the Speech-Language Institute assist parents with infants in terms of feeding?
If a child is experiencing difficulty feeding, an evaluation at the Speech-Language Institute may be warranted. If a mother has worked with a lactation consultant on breastfeeding and continues to have difficulty, an evaluation will help determine if the child qualifies for feeding therapy.