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Why Virtual Lactation Consultations Are a Great Option for All Parents

Feeding your baby breast milk can be a time of bonding and joy. The post-milk snuggles, skin-to-skin intimacy, the sweet smell of the top of the head…even middle-of-the-night wakings to feed your baby can create a deep, one-of-a-kind connection. 

Still, along with the closeness that comes with breastfeeding, it’s normal for questions to come up or help to be needed. When they do, professional breastfeeding support is invaluable.

From your baby’s first latch to their last, having access to professional, evidence-based breastfeeding support makes a real difference in meeting your breastfeeding goals and helping you feel more confident in your ability to feed your baby.

The statistics bear this out: research has found that 60% of mothers stop breastfeeding sooner than they intended, and difficulties with lactation are the main reason. 

Luckily, access to telemedicine has risen in recent years, and virtual lactation consultations are a convenient and cost-effective way to tap into the breastfeeding support you need and deserve without having to leave home. 

What is a virtual lactation consultation?

Put simply, a virtual lactation consultation is a remote telehealth appointment with a lactation consultant. Usually, the appointment is conducted via video chat. There’s no need to travel to a provider’s office in person.

You and your lactation consultant will be able to see each other and talk face-to-face about your breastfeeding experience. You’ll receive personalized guidance and recommendations in real time in the most convenient place possible—your own home. 

Telehealth services are a safe, confidential, and clinically proven means of providing medical care, including lactation care.

Are virtual lactation consultations as effective as in-person lactation consultations?

A virtual consultation with an international board-certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) is just as effective as an in-person consultation for many families, if not more so. 

Comprehensive scope of support

Your lactation consultant won’t use their hands to examine you and your baby in a virtual visit, but observation is a key part of the process. An IBCLC will be able to see you in your own setting and assess things visually, listening to you, observing closely, and guiding you. This holistic support can give you the confidence to understand your feedings better and know when more help is needed. 

Increased comfort for parents

Additionally, you may feel more at ease because you’re in your home environment. Feeling comfortable during your consultation allows you to speak more freely, and this can lead to a more helpful session. 

What’s more, an IBCLC can see where you’re breastfeeding your child, which can lead to more personalized guidance. For example, if they can see that your preferred spot to breastfeed is a deep, comfy couch, they may suggest using extra pillows to support you and your baby. 

Reduced barriers to access

Online lactation appointments can be less expensive than in-person consultations (and without the time cost involved with travel). Plus, many providers accept health insurance, and services may be 100% covered. 

Moreover, online lactation support can be scheduled at a time that suits you. This is especially helpful for parents with busy schedules or who have difficulty traveling. 

Proven to be effective

Remote lactation appointments are just as effective as in-person consultations. Studies have shown that virtual lactation consults can help parents to improve their breastfeeding outcomes. 

What breastfeeding concerns can an IBCLC address via virtual consultation?

Research shows that virtual lactation consultations can help parents improve their breastfeeding outcomes and successfully navigate common issues, such as latching and milk supply challenges.

You can meet with your IBCLC virtually to address any breastfeeding topics you would discuss in an in-person appointment, such as:

Your IBCLC will address aches and pains by observing you breastfeeding and suggesting more comfortable breastfeeding positions.

Similarly, a virtual lactation consultant will help you plan your breastfeeding journey, including situations like: 

Could a virtual lactation consultation be right for you?

Virtual lactation consultations make quality, evidence-based breastfeeding support available to parents who may otherwise have difficulty accessing it. 

You may find virtual appointments particularly helpful if:

  • You live in a rural area with limited access to IBCLCs
  • You prefer to speak a language other than English, and there’s a lack of IBCLCs in your area who speak your language
  • Traveling to appointments is difficult due to transportation issues or childcare needs
  • You have a hectic work or school schedule
  • You need help right away and want to choose the provider you think you will feel most comfortable with
  • You’re immunocompromised or have other health concerns that make it difficult to leave home
  • You’re isolating or quarantined due to COVID-19 or another infectious illness 
  • You’re breastfeeding multiples and find it challenging to transport them to an in-person consultation 
  • Your baby has special needs, and you lack access to IBCLCs with experience in this area
  • You need an IBCLC who has specialized experience with chestfeeding or inducing lactation

That said, you don’t have to have any exceptional circumstances to book a virtual appointment with a Nest Collaborative IBCLC. Any parent can benefit from the ease, affordability, and effectiveness of a virtual lactation consultation.

How to prepare for a virtual lactation consultation

Before your appointment, gather relevant information about your breastfeeding journey, including your baby's birth weight, feeding schedule, and any breastfeeding challenges you’re experiencing. If you have questions or concerns for your IBCLC, start a list.

Choose a quiet, private, and comfortable spot for your video call. Make sure you have a stable internet connection (usually, accommodations are made if you have connection problems). If you plan to use headphones, test them beforehand. Also, check that your camera is working and the area is well-lit.

And, of course, keep your baby and any breastfeeding supplies you need nearby! If possible, try to schedule your appointment when you would typically breastfeed your baby. 

Tips for getting the most out of your virtual lactation consultation

Choose an international board-certified lactation consultant (IBCLC). IBCLCs are highly trained and qualified breastfeeding professionals and well-equipped to help you find solutions that work for you and your family.

Be prepared and participate actively to get the most out of any lactation appointment. Discuss your breastfeeding experiences openly and honestly with your consultant, and ask your questions without fear. 

Remember, we’re here to support YOU!

Take notes even if you think you'll remember your IBCLC’s advice. Follow their instructions to the best of your ability. 

And if you believe that a specific suggestion would be too difficult to implement, you don’t have to smile and nod. Mention your concerns during your appointment. That way, your IBCLC can provide alternative suggestions that meet your needs. 

Book a convenient online video appointment with a Nest Collaborative IBCLC today

At Nest Collaborative, our unbiased, evidence-based, multilingual team increases access to lactation support by providing virtual appointments, offering flexible appointment windows, and even handling insurance billing for patients.

We’re committed to providing effective, convenient, and empathetic care for every stage of your breastfeeding journey. Whether you need support to prepare for breastfeeding or want to address a specific breastfeeding concern, don’t hesitate to book your online video appointment

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