Can I really get help with breastfeeding virtually?
Updated: May 6, 2020
If you're looking for breastfeeding help and want to keep yourself isolated or just don't have access to breastfeeding help where you live - read on for more information on how a virtual visit with an IBCLC can help!
While this certainly could be an idea - I think everyone would feel more comfortable if we just stayed in our own homes for now!
I planned to eventually offer virtual lactation services - since there's an overall lack of skilled breastfeeding help and I want to help those out of my area who might not have access to in person help, but I really wanted to focus on my in person home consults for a while first.
Well, there's nothing like a global pandemic to make you change your plans!
Luckily, I belong to several amazing networking groups for lactation consultants and have been able to gain a lot of knowledge very quickly about how to best help families with breastfeeding virtually from other IBCLCs who have been doing this for a long time!
What to expect from a virtual lactation consultation:
1. Once a visit has been scheduled, you will receive an email with a link to my secure video conferencing platform. Currently, I am using doxy.me. Upon scheduling, you will also complete my intake form and consents - this gives me a lot of information to start preparing for the visit.
2. It will be super helpful for you to also prepare for the visit by making sure somebody can be home to assist you with the camera - I may need to see things up close and your hands might be tied up with baby. A partner, family member or close friend is great - even older children can do great at this!
3. To do a video call, you can use your phone, tablet or computer - a phone or tablet is ideal because you can easily move it around to get the views and angles that may help me better see what's going on. We can make a computer work as well.
4. At the designated time, follow the link I sent you - or type it into the web browser you're using. It's simple!
5. Once the call as started, the visit will proceed like any visit - we'll go through your history and concerns, I'll have a lot of questions to ask you. If your baby is showing signs of hunger, we'll stop where we're at and work on feeding. While it's hard to not be right beside you for this part, I'll still be able to see what's going on through the camera and I'll keep asking you lots of questions about what you're feeling, seeing and hearing.
6. For other parts of the visit like assessing baby's mouth and overall posture - I may ask you to lay your baby a certain way and hold the camera at certain angles. I will even ask you to look inside your baby's mouth and use your fingers to do certain manuevers to help give me important information. Don't worry, you don't need to be perfect and I'll walk you through every step of the way. Many parents find they actually like doing this because it allows you to explore and get to know your baby in a whole new way!
7. A typical virtual visit will last 1-2 hours and by the end, we will make sure we have addressed all of your concerns and have developed a care plan for you and your baby going forward.
I hope this has answered some of your questions and helps you feel more comfortable with virtual lactation services. I, along with many of my colleaques are jumping in full force to make these services available.
Please reach out for help -
Having a new baby at home can be a very isolating experience for many families and during a global pandemic, this is especially true. My heart goes out to all those families having babies during this time - it might not be what you planned for, but do know that there are still many of us out here trying to help you have a positive experience and keep you supported during this time. I look forward to serving you!