pregnancy, birth & lactation services… at home
A study newly released this month in ‘Breastfeeding Medicine’ discusses the use of internet resources by mothers to gain breastfeeding advice. Physicians completed a survey including answering questions about unsolictied contact by patients with whom they have no current relationship reaching out for help with breastfeeding concerns. The physicians acknowledged these unsolicited emails as “cries for help” from patients who were unable to access lactation care in any other way. The researchers conclude their findings:
Physicians are important to breastfeeding success, and when mothers are searching for information to help them breastfeed successfully, a few physician experts cannot possibly meet the potential demand for this information. The creation of more physician experts in breastfeeding is needed to meet the increasing demand for breastfeeding support. Future efforts should focus on physician education and encouragement of breastfeeding, as well as alternate resources and strategies for physicians so that breastfeeding mothers receive timely, expert, and accurate information and a continuity of support. (Bold Mine).
The researchers are correct- the current number of lactation professionals is inadequate to meet the demand. Mothers need better access to Lactation Care Providers (LCP) both financially and physically (anyone who seeks to limit the number of trained, qualified LCPs families have financial and physical access to is NOT serving mothers and babies), but perhaps electronic access should also be considered.
It seems that many women need better information and support, not necessarily clinical assessment such as a CLC or an IBCLC might provide during a visit. What about using electronic formats to better prepare mothers, partners and support people concerning breastfeeding- what to expect as they begin the journey? What about having online dicsussions that focus on helping parents have realistic expectations about the early breastfeeding relationship- building confidence early allows mothers room to find that breastfeeding ‘groove’ with their little one and could lead to longer duration rates. Both LCPs and other kinds of breastfeeding specialists could access the internet to better support expecting and new mothers. And LCPs and others would know when to refer specific mothers to local professional assistance. By using the internet via chat rooms, skype sessions and online classrooms maybe we can get appropriate educational and social support to mothers who need the assistance.
Jennifer R. Thomas and Ulfat Shaikh. Breastfeeding Medicine. December 2012, 7(6): 393-396. doi:10.1089/bfm.2011.0133.