Why Lactation Consultants Work with SimpliFed

March 18, 2024

Why LCs work with SimpliFed to extend their clinical reach 

According to the CDC, 80% of babies born in the United States start out breastfeeding and yet 6 out of 10 parents stop breastfeeding earlier than they intend. There are a myriad of reasons why families supplement with other feeding methods, but if they want the support to continue breastfeeding it should be offered to them. 

Breastfeeding support in a hospital setting

Lactation support in a clinical setting has been prioritized after the Affordable Care Act mandated it be covered by insurance for as long as the breastfeeding dyad needed it. The United States Lactation Association published an article on the number of clinicians needed to adequately support lactating caregivers.  Hospitals, they say, should be staffed at 2 FTEs per 1000 births and have on-call lactation consultants available within 24 hours post-birth. Though these numbers are aimed at helping support healthcare systems and teams, there is no reporting that all hospitals meet these numbers. 

If hospitals are adequately staffed with consultants, where is the reporting that families would even know to use them? Many women or caregivers are unprepared for breastfeeding, believing it will come more easily than it sometimes does.

Can prenatal support help?

Prenatal education surrounding baby feeding is proven to help with breastfeeding initiation. This type of clinical care can increase a family's decision to begin breastfeeding in the first place as they feel prepared with a feeding plan and have gone over early feeding milestones. They also have a more positive outlook, understanding the infant benefits as well as breastfeeding’s impact on their mental health. There is a correlation between breastfeeding and postpartum depression with studies showing that when caregivers struggle with breastfeeding they may have an increased chance to experience postpartum depression.  Armed with knowledge, caregivers are also more likely to know what questions to ask of an in-hospital team post-delivery. 

Many of the CDC’s breastfeeding strategies state a lack of education and support as a reason for low breastfeeding numbers. Early access to support also means families and caregivers know when and where to seek help if newborn feeding isn’t going as planned.

Extending breastfeeding support at home 

The ACA mandate has shown promise in increasing breastfeeding numbers, with an increase in parents reportedly initiating breastfeeding after birth. That said, the statistics show it hasn't had a significant impact on the duration of breastfeeding with only half of parents meeting that 6 month recommendation of fully breastfeeding for 6 months. 

Though adequate hospital or clinic support is essential, the average hospital stay in the United States after birth is 24 hours to 4 days, yet a lactating parent’s milk on average comes in about 3 to 5 days after birth. The first few weeks are significant in establishing a feeding cadence, as families are in their environment with situations and demands that are different from the hospital. Lack of sleep, anxiety over the baby's well-being, and family expectations can be kept at bay in a controlled setting. Once families are home, everything changes. And often help is needed at the most inopportune times, busy lives with young-kid schedules means appointments and support are needed on weekends or evenings and not always during a typical 9-5. 

This is shown in the numbers too. Breastfeeding rates decrease rapidly a few weeks post-delivery and decrease even further after a month. The numbers fall even further again once women return to work. The need for education about pumping or maintaining a supply while parents are away from their babies is needed. This should come in the form of longitudinal care that continues well past establishing a good latch. 

Wrap-around care that includes a team

The statistics show that extended support and education will help families meet the AAP marker, but traveling to in-person care may not always be an option for families. As well, burdened health systems may not have the resources to provide what is needed every single time. Layering in a virtual lactation team such as SimpliFed means in-clinic teams can continue to work at the top of their license knowing their patients are receiving education and care surrounding their feeding goals. As well, families are given options and flexibility. SimpliFed providers can extend a clinical practice by actually extending the hours too, with the ability to meet with families after hours or when the baby is sleeping. When patients are offered care on their own terms, they are more likely to use it. 

Most importantly, SimpliFed is integrated into the maternal care pathway, offering prenatal lactation and baby feeding support as well as continued routine support post-delivery. Virtual teams take a multidisciplinary approach and work closely with each patient's providers to share information as needed.  Metrics like breastfeeding initiation, duration, and intensity are significant measures for health systems and SimpliFed can easily report on these. 

Bottom line: layering in virtual breastfeeding care with SimpliFed means families are offered wrap-around support to meet their feeding goals while also adding value to an in-clinic lactation team by way of time, metrics, and better outcomes.

And it’s proven to work

After working with SimpliFed, 87% of patients are still breastfeeding after 3 months as compared to the national average of 47%. Patients report they feel less stressed and can meet their breastfeeding goals. 

If you’re a hospital leader and would like to discuss how SimpliFed can extend your lactation team, please contact us.