Virtual Breast-feeding Support: Helping Moms One Latch at a Time

PHOTO: THINKSTOCK/FAMVELD

Since 1992, August has been the month to celebrate breast-feeding in the United States and across the globe. Nutrition and health organizations use this time to participate in activities to celebrate the work of health professionals in supporting breast-feeding women and their families.

Breast-feeding provides numerous benefits to women and their babies but support is essential. From providing anticipatory guidance during pregnancy to reaching moms during their hospital stay and checking on them at home, health care providers and peer counselors have the ability to provide parents with evidence-based information and resources to not only help them make better decisions about breast-feeding but to maintain breast-feeding — even through the challenging times.

Mobile apps and tools for providing breast-feeding support are transforming how moms receive care.  “Telelactation” allows a board-certified lactation consultant to reach moms in rural areas and also when limited time and busy lifestyles get in the way of “seeing” how a mom and her new baby are doing during this important time.

Watching the baby latch via webcam, answering questions about milk supply, and providing that “just-in-time” education all are services that can help make a difference in a mom’s breast-feeding experience. Online support groups also can connect new moms who may feel isolated during those first few weeks at home. Research in this area is growing, and it is exciting to see how it will develop. Dietitians who also are lactation consultants (a great career opportunity) or who partner with lactation consultants can take advantage of these tools and help moms — one latch at a time.

Kathleen Pellechia on Twitter
Kathleen Pellechia
Kathleen Pellechia, RDN is a nutrition and health informatics consultant and is the electronic resources coordinator for the WIC Works Resource System of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She is a member of the Academy's Nutrition Informatics Committee and its Consumer Informatics Workgroup.