Tips for a Successful Online Lactation Consultation: How to Get the Most Out of Your Virtual Visit

woman breastfeeding

For a time in the Summer of 2020, I only was able to help my lactation clients online. I had a newborn at home myself, born in April during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I was not ready to put myself in physical situations with clients. To be honest, I wasn't ready to be back into advisor-mode, but it was clear that parents out there needed help. And many of them felt like that help could only be accessed virtually. What a time to have a newborn, especially a first-born. I'll always feel a special bond with other parents of early-pandemic babies. 

As I interacted with clients and friends in need, I immediately felt that virtual support in infant-feeding was sorely lacking. How could that work with something as difficult and hands-on (well, not really hands-on, but up-close-and-personal) as breastfeeding support?

Three years later, I'm reflecting on what worked in my practice when virtual consults were the only viable option. I want to share some tips for what can help parents get the most out of a virtual lactation visit.

1) Choose a quiet, comfortable, strong-bandwidth location: Before your virtual visit, choose a quiet location where you can comfortably breastfeed your baby. Avoid noisy areas, such as your home's busy kitchen or a loud shop where your baby might get distracted. Select a place where you can feel comfortable attempting a feed. It's also important to ensure that you have a strong and stable internet connection.

2) Gather any relevant materials before the session begins: In preparation for your consultation, gather any relevant materials, such as a breast pump and flanges, nursing pillow, any nipple cream you're using, your nursing bra, etc. You may also want to have a notebook and pen handy to take notes during the session.

3) Be prepared to share your breastfeeding history: During your online lactation consultation, your lactation consultant will likely ask about your breastfeeding history, including any challenges or concerns you may have. Be prepared to share any relevant information, such as how often your baby feeds or any pain or discomfort you may be experiencing.

4) Be open and honest: In order to receive the best possible guidance and support, it's important to be open and honest with your lactation consultant. Don't be afraid to ask questions or share any concerns you may have. Honestly. We've seen and heard it all.

5) Ask a support person to hold the phone/camera: The use of a camera during your virtual visit can be extremely helpful, but if you're trying to hold it yourself, it might be difficult to approximate a "real" nursing situation. And yet, your lactation consultant can observe your baby's latch and positioning best from a very close angle, so it's easiest for all involved if you can get a partner or family member to play camera-person.

6) Consider in-person visits when the issue is LATCH-related. So much of breastfeeding struggles come back to the latch, and although it's possible to advise on latch and positioning on a virtual call (especially if you follow step 5!), it can be hard and frustrating. If possible, lactation consults about other (non-latch-specific) challenges and struggles are much more easily done online, including topics such as:

  • preparing to breastfeed
  • pumping 101
  • bottlefeeding basics
  • setting up your nursing station and supplies
  • troubleshooting oversupply
  • when baby refuses a bottle
  • peaceful weaning
  • meet-and-greet with consultant to assess fit

But even if the consult is latch-related, if you live in an area where in-person support is scarce or unaffordable, or if you have health concerns or other challenges that prevent you from seeking in-person latch care, a virtual visit can be immensely helpful. By following the tips shared above, you can help ensure a successful online lactation consultation. Virtual visits can be a great way to receive breastfeeding support from the comfort of your own home, and with the help of a lactation consultant, you can overcome challenges and make breastfeeding a positive and rewarding experience for both you and your baby.

If you are searching for a lactation counselor near you, Nessle is here to help. Our platform offers a range of lactation consultants who provide both in-home and virtual consultations. With Nessle, you can connect with experienced lactation counselors who can provide personalized support and guidance, tailored to your individual needs.

Carly B

Carly B

Carly is a postpartum doula and Certified Lactation Consultant (CLC) based in the West End of Richmond, Virginia.