Updated: Jul 17, 2020
In times like these we seem to be defaulting to online consults for work, socializing and even healthcare visits, to increase access but decrease chance of spreading illness. Is an online video platform appropriate to assess infant feeding? What can and can't you get from an online consult with an LC?
It's not the same
No matter how advanced a practitioner's skills are there are some things that we just CAN'T do online that we CAN do in person, namely, weigh your infant (a vital metric especially in the early days). Things we can't do from a computer: feel inside baby's mouth, assess suck strength, palpate the breast for assessment (such as in the case that you had a suspected plugged duct, etc), adjust pillows for you, hold your baby when you need a break, etc.
Another thing that is tricky and varies from device to device is colour which can affect the practitioner's ability to perceive abnormal skin tones - such as in the case of suspected jaundice. Even though it is not within our scope as LCs to diagnose jaundice we could be an important link in the chain of discovering illness. Altered colour due to device performance could also affect our ability to notice reddened areas on the breast in the case of mastitis or other infection. We can ensure to have good tech on our end but it is outside of the practitioner's control what tech you bring to the table.
Online consults can still be extremely helpful
Although there are some significant limitations, today's secure online video platforms allow us to connect so you and your family can get some support and guidance at a time when things can feel pretty unknown.
Over video we CAN: assess and help you adjust infant latch at the breast/chest, teach hand expression, increase your comfort as you breast/chestfeeding, learn better bottle-feeding technique, work through feelings around breast/chestfeeding and come up with realistic plans for you and your family.
Even in the best of circumstances with the best tech, things fail. People's phones die, internet cuts out or the connection is painstakingly slow. Having said that, there are some things you can do to ensure your online consult goes more smoothly:
have your phone charged
have someone there (that you're comfortable with seeing you breast/chest/bottlefeed) to help you film and offer the practitioners different angles of viewing to properly assess issues. If you don't have someone, have something to prop your phone up so that you can have both hands free
check your internet connection and make sure it's strong. Sometimes there might be a stronger signal on your phone if you are connected to a fast phone network, so consider tethering to your phone for a stronger connection in that case.
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