by Linda Zager
In today’s busy world moms cannot always find time to meet with a lactation professional in-person when support is needed. These professionals can be far away, only have office hours at limited times and let’s be honest, when you have a newborn it can be near impossible to even get dressed let alone making it out of the house. But there is hope! Breastfeeding moms can receive support by reaching out by phone and speaking with a Lactation Consultant, nurse or a member of the breastfeeding community regarding breastfeeding or pumping concerns. Phone triage is a first step to resolving some breastfeeding issues. Mom’s face frustration caused by inconsistent information about breastfeeding and often, the unique personality of the baby is not taken into consideration.
Families can experience stress once they bring their baby home from the hospital. There may be questions surrounding breastfeeding and learning to “read” the newest addition to their family. A phone conversation can dispel common myths. Offering a small amount of education and lending an empathetic ear goes a long way. By listening carefully, a lactation professional will be capable of addressing some issues by phone. Offering mom different ideas of how to resolve simple issues can also empower moms! Follow up is often necessary to assess if the advice resolved the issue. The lactation professional may detect a more complicated issue that cannot be addressed over the phone, and in that case, the mom will be referred to a skilled Lactation Specialist for an in-person assessment.
The challenge for those who are providing support to breastfeeding women over the phone will be to distinguish between the mothers and babies whose situations are uncomplicated and those who will need the special assistance of a skilled International Board Certified Lactation Consultant(IBCLC). Proper assessment of the breastfeeding process requires an understanding of how the anatomy, physiology and psychology of how the mom and infant interact during lactation. Conducting a thorough history of the breastfeeding woman’s pregnancy, labor and delivery and postpartum period can shed light on any complications that could affect breastfeeding.
Pumping moms can seek advice over the phone to resolve problems they are experiencing with breast pumping. All Moms are unique and may have different experiences when using a breast pump. Not all breast pumps are made to operate in the same manner and one type of breast pump can work very well for one woman and poorly for another. Therefore the person offering advice on pumping by phone requires education on various types of breast pumps, which pump is best for the reason mom is using it, basics of pumping and suggestions to help stimulate a milk letdown. Moms need to be directed to READ the instruction manual of their breast pump and not assume it works like her friends or the one she used 3 years ago. Mom needs to be patient with her body as it adapts to a breast pump to express her milk. The first few pumping sessions should be looked at as practice. Pumping is very different than nursing a baby and a body needs to adapt to this difference. Pumping should never be a painful experience. If a mom is stating pumping is painful, factors such as flange size, suction pressure and pumping technique must be reviewed with her.
At Ameda, we have ParentCare Specialists available that are knowledgeable in the basics of pumping and how the Ameda breast pump functions. The representatives are responsible for thorough troubleshooting of the Ameda breast pump if an issue occurs so the mom has a positive pumping experience. If a ParentCare Specialist cannot resolve the issue, the mom’s case file is escalated to one of our IBCLC’s for assistance. And that is where I come in, I am a RN and IBCLC. I assist moms with both breastfeeding and pumping issues using phone triage to find a resolution to an issue. A mom who finds breastfeeding support during her motherhood journey can reach her goal of feeding her baby breast milk – a truly special gift.