By: Theresa Moutafis, MA, RD, CDCES, IBCLC
In these uncertain times, many healthcare providers are turning to telehealth, or virtual, appointments. This includes lactation consultants, which can be a life-saver for new parents who don’t or can’t leave their homes.
Some resources like Breastfeeding USA counselors or hospital warm lines have been around for awhile are often used for minor breastfeeding concerns or a way to access other in-person resources.
Having eyes on you and your baby is necessary in more complex or complicated issues, and when you can’t be physically in person, video chats can bridge the gap and provide a useful way to assess any concerns you may have.
IBCLCs, or International Board Certified Lactation Consultants, in private practice may offer their services via video now (or have been for awhile), or you may be able to access an IBCLC virtually through programs your hospital or health insurance have. There are also telelactation apps and services online. Below is a list of IBCLCs in Massachusetts who are offering virtual services at this time (COMING SOON).
Once you have a video appointment set up, here are some tips to make the appointment efficient and as helpful as possible!
- Make sure all technology is working ahead of time. Test your webcam if you are using a laptop. If you are accessing services via app, make sure you are logged in and the app is working and doesn’t need to be updated. Also make sure you have a strong WiFi signal.
- Also make sure you are in a room with good lighting, if possible. The more the lactation consultant can see the more we can help!
- As much as you can (it’s understandably hard, especially with a newborn), try not to feed right before your appointment. Your IBCLC needs to see that feed in most cases!
- Enlist a “cameraman” to help maneuver your phone or computer to catch different angles of the feeding.
- Have pediatrician and/or hospital discharge paperwork handy, as your IBCLC might be asking you questions such as birth weight, discharge weight, etc.
- Have any supplies you are using, such as a pump or nipple shield, close by.
- If your IBCLC is not looking at the screen or keeps looking away, it doesn’t mean we are distracted – it means we are taking notes on paper or on another monitor. Or we are looking at you on our screens versus the webcam.
- Send pictures of any concerns you have beforehand if you’d like. If the platform or communication method your IBCLC uses allows it, feel free to send videos or photos of baby’s mouth or pumping or a dirty diaper whatever else you feel is relevant!
- It’s OK if you are uncomfortable getting undressed or feeding via webcam. Just remember that this is part of how we help and we may not be able to do a full assessment.
We are all in this together, and IBCLCs are just beginning to learn the limits and benefits to telelactation. Bookmark this article, reach out when you need help, and stay safe!
Special thanks to my Sonder Health telelactation colleagues Mary Unangst and Stephanie Johnson for their ideas and tips!