As a mom-to-be or first-time new mom, you may find it helpful to meet with a lactation specialist who can offer education, clinical advice, and support. Most professional lactation specialists obtain credentials such as International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) or Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC). These credentials can help ensure that you receive an excellent standard of care.
About Lactation Specialists
Lactation specialists can help with:
- Identifying potential lactation or breastfeeding problems during pregnancy
- Baby’s optimal latch techniques
- Nursing positions (there are several great ones)
- How to ensuring baby is getting enough to eat
- Tips for establishing a good milk supply
- How to avoid and repair nipple pain and damage
- Baby’s slow weight gain
- Mastitis and other breast infections
- How to use a breast pump
- Introducing solids
- Returning to work
In-Person or Virtual?
- Breastfeeding support starts with education in the prenatal period. It extends to early postpartum through weaning. Some breastfeeding concerns may be best dealt with at an in-person visit, but most can be addressed, assessed, and resolved at a virtual consultation. If you aren’t sure which visit best suits your situation, it’s OK to ask the lactation specialist for her advice. In some areas, in-person providers can be hard to find, so virtual care may be the only option to offer support.
- One of the few bright spots in the Covid-19 pandemic was that it encouraged most people to learn how to meet and work virtually. Just like pediatricians, midwives, and other healthcare professionals, lactation specialists had to adapt quickly to provide care and support virtually. Moms and babies ultimately receive lactation care quicker and easier with a virtual option. As a new parent, anything that makes caring for baby easier is a bonus!
- The key to a successful experience with virtual lactation care is communication. It’s essential to ask questions. Expect to have both you and baby present for the visit. If your partner or a support person can attend, that’s even better! It’s often helpful for another adult to be on a different phone showing the consultant up close what is happening with latch or baby’s sucking abilities.
Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Consultant
- Fill out all forms prior to the visit. Patient history forms give you an opportunity to organize your thoughts about why you are seeking care. You can describe your concerns, list medications you are taking, and explain your medical history. All of these facts are important for your lactation specialist to give you the best care possible.
- Virtual visits tend to start on time (no long waiting room experiences) and be shorter than in-person visits. Come prepared with your questions written down to make sure you don’t forget anything.
- Prioritize your questions or issues to make sure you cover the most pressing first. It’s perfectly normal for new mothers and partners to have many questions.
- Get organized in advance of the visit. Try to have anything you might need within reach – most importantly your baby, but also notes with feeding/diaper count information, any equipment you are using (such as a nipple shield, breast pump, bottle with expressed milk or formula, etc.)
- Think about the best set-up for your computer or phone so that the IBCLC will be able to see you and your baby easily.
- If possible, have a designated camera helper during the visit. The specialist may ask for your camera or your helper’s camera to be moved at times to better see different angles, especially as you latch.
- Be open to scheduling a follow up visit to check in with your specialist but also to address any lower priority questions at a future date.
To access the visit, use the link provided to you for the visit. Hop on a few minutes before the visit starts. Even though the visit should be taking place on a secure and private virtual platform to protect your privacy, you can decide if you nurse in front of the consultant or opt not to
At Your Visit
Your lactation specialist will ask questions to be sure she understands your concerns, history, and current situation. Depending on what you are working on, the following may be observed:
- Breast anatomy and condition
- Latching for a feed
- Positioning baby for a feed
- Baby’s oral anatomy
- Baby’s body and movements
- Breast pump use including flange fit
- Burping and soothing techniques
- Bottle feeding technique
Be sure to ask questions if you need more information about what is happening at the visit.
Your Care Plan
- Towards the end of the visit, your lactation provider will share a plan that she proposes for you. Give honest feedback as to how you feel about the recommendations. Complex situations can feel overwhelming. It’s best to say how you are feeling, especially if the plan being proposed feels unworkable for you. Most consultants will work with you on short-term priorities (things that you can try to change in a few days) and longer-term actions (goals to reach in a month or six months).
- Expect your lactation provider to email to you a care plan that contains resources and a summary of what you discussed at the visit. Be sure to review this information, especially since it can be hard to take in all of the suggestions during the visit. It’s best to set up a new visit if you still have questions. While it might be tempting to call, text or email questions, it’s best to talk on a virtual platform again. Setting time aside for a full conversation will ensure that there is no miscommunication.
What If I Have Questions?
If you are interested in learning more about having a virtual lactation visit, you can schedule a one-on-one appointment with an Aeroflow lactation consultant here. You may even be eligible to receive care through your insurance company. Be sure to check out our eligibility form here to see if you qualify through your insurance plan! There are also plenty of support groups to help with your breastfeeding journey.