ST. GEORGE — New mothers needing a little extra help as far as breastfeeding their newborn are now able to get a new kind of house call.

In an undated photo, a doctor provides a mother with breastfeeding advice during a telehealth session, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Intermountain Health, St. George News

Intermountain Health, the parent company of St. George Regional, Cedar City and Garfield Memorial hospitals has added lactation consultations to its telehealth services. 

Mothers using the Connect Health service can have their questions and concerns answered as well as additional breastfeeding training over video chat from their home or other location at their convenience, rather than having to arrange for the time and travel of an in-person appointment with their doctor or pediatrician.

Dr. Maurine Cobabe, a Murray, Utah-based doctor leading the new initiative, said it will be especially helpful in the first four days after mothers go home with their new child.

“It’s often day three or day four after childbirth when breastfeeding is the hardest,” Cobabe said in a statement issued by Intermountain Health. “That’s typically after moms have gone home from the hospital, when their milk transitions from colostrum to really coming to full volume, and they’re on their own to continue breastfeeding without the help of nurses or lactation consultants in the hospital.”

Board-certified lactation consultants will link up with their patients and, if needed, can provide visual demonstrations utilizing a baby mannequin. 

The hospitals in St. George, Cedar City and Panguitch all recently received the highest rating from the Utah Department of Health and Human Services for their breastfeeding programs

Madeline Peterson, a patient who recently had a telehealth lactation consultation, said in a statement that with three kids aged 3 and under, it was easier for her to do a telehealth visit, rather than an in-person visit that might require finding a babysitter. 

In an undated photo, a new mother attends a telehealth session, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Intermountain Health, St. George News

“I had a clogged milk duct and was able to get that resolved through a telehealth visit. I had this same problem with my second child also, but I never got help from a lactation consultant and it was painful and continued for a couple of months,” she said. “I wish I’d reached out for help back then too.”

Cobabe said there is other newer information on breastfeeding that even those who are not first-time moms may find valuable. That includes new science-based information on treating plugged milk ducts and inflammation. 

“It’s important to get the most current and up to date information about breastfeeding,” Cobabe said. “Friends and family may mean well, but they may not have the most up to date information. Some breastfeeding recommendations can change, even since a recent, previous birth.”

According to Centers for Disease Control, 92% of moms in Utah initiate breastfeeding from the time of their child’s birth, but that number dwindles to 62% at six months. Dr. Peter Lindgren, associate medical director for well newborn care at Intermountain Health, said the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends breastfeeding for the first two years of a child’s life. 

“Research has found that breast milk is the best food for infants and breastfeeding is associated with decreased risk for infant morbidity and mortality,” Lindgren said. 

Expecting and new mothers are asked to consult with their doctor about accessing the telehealth lactation consult. Along with that, Intermountain offers a $1, two-hour virtual breastfeeding class.

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