As many stores ration the amount of formula families can buy at one time, the tele-lactation program at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital is providing breastfeeding mothers with support from the comforts of their own homes. This service has been essential during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is a really good option for new moms and moms with multiple children,” explained Dachan, a new mom of four, who has been using the tele-lactation service since welcoming her youngest child in June. “I’ll have my husband or one of my other children hold the phone for me during the consultation. They’ll watch Daniel latch and feed and we talk through my concerns. I still feel like it’s a personal experience even though it’s a video call. Daniel is almost eight weeks now and is gaining weight beautifully.”
Mothers can call UPMC Magee to make a free tele-lactation appointment, even if they only need to talk through their concerns and would prefer not to breastfeed during the session. A typical appointment lasts 20-30 minutes or longer depending on the needs of the mother.
“Due to COVID-19, many moms are choosing to leave the hospital earlier, within 24-36 hours, so they’re getting less time to receive help with breastfeeding. Especially for first-time moms, it can be a real challenge for them to get comfortable and prepared to breastfeed,” said Deborah Zidek, R.N., I.B.L.C.L., a lactation consultant at UPMC Magee. “With tele-lactation, we can meet moms where they are and seamlessly provide the support they often need.”
August 25-31: Black Breastfeeding Week
The last week of August is Black Breastfeeding Week, which aims to celebrate the act of breastfeeding and let Black moms know they are supported in their efforts to breastfeed.
“The telemedicine aspect of this program is especially important for the Black community as it breaks down some of the barriers to access and offers care that anyone can use,” said Dachan. “Connecting with a lactation consultant virtually allows working moms with high demand jobs a convenient way to get the breastfeeding guidance they need.”
Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that Black mothers breastfeed at a lower rate than others based on health care disparities and social stigma. The likelihood of Black mothers learning to initiate breastfeeding in the hospital is lower than that of White mothers, and formula is more likely to be offered.
Additionally, research has found that the need to return to work shortly after birth limits the ability of Black mothers to consistently nurse and leads to complications. Having access to a free telemedicine service can provide the support mothers need to successfully breastfeed and ensure their babies are staying healthy.
The Lactation Center at UPMC Magee offers education and assistance on a variety of prenatal and postpartum breastfeeding concerns. Each lactation consultant is board-certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners and has extensive experience working with mothers and babies.
Additional information about lactation services at UPMC Magee can be found online or by calling 412-641-1121.