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FORMER midwife helps new mums stuck in lockdown to breastfeed their babies by holding lactation clinics online

A FORMER midwife has revealed how she’s still managing to help new mums stuck in lockdown to breastfeed their babies by holding lactation clinics online.
Before the the Covid-19 regulations were introduced Sara, who has nearly 20 years’ experience helping women who have just given birth, was seeing concerned clients face to face through her role at Perfect Balance Clinic.
But as with so many industries, and to protect her own family, the she was forced to adjust her business model and offer help and advice online. 
Earlier this week Sara, a mum of two herself, learned in-person consultations will be allowed providing she’s wearing full personal protective equipment (PPE).
However, because her virtual sessions have been so successful she will also continue to help struggling mums via the internet.
“I’ve been seeing the clients through Zoom. We had never really done lactation classes online before and I think there has been a huge benefit to it,” said Sara, 40, who is also a registered osteopath.
“It gives people easier access. I’ve been seeing people from South London who may not have come up to the clinic initially, but they can now get an appointment quickly online and it seems to be working. 
“So I think for the future it will be great to access people on a wider scale, plus of course local ladies who want help.”
Sara says she’s been seeing mainly new mums who may have been struggling to access postnatal services in the wake of deep-seated coronavirus unease.
She added: “There are breastfeeding clinics, but I think women are keen to get home and get going, rather than making visits to clinics.
“There’s a lot we can do virtually. I think some ladies at first think, ‘What can you do online?’.
“But I get the feeling when they leave the Zoom meeting they are thinking, ‘Wow, I’ve learnt so much – I didn’t realise breastfeeding was so in depth or there was so much to learn from it’. 
“If you understand how it works then it makes everything fall into place.”
Sara, from Hertfordshire, admits she has the odd camera-angle issue.
“My biggest challenge has probably been not getting the camera on the bits that I need to see,” she said.
“So the women will be happy to show me their nipples and how they latch, but if they’re on their own and their partners are with others kids or whatever, the lens doesn’t necessarily allow me to see the intricate details I need to see.
“But I think, on the whole, we have been all right and got through that.”
She revealed her clients generally only need one class to get them on the right track to breastfeeding success.
Sara said: “My philosophy is find, fix it and leave it alone, so I will try to mostly see people just once. 
“Then they have my email and I send clients a summary of what we have done and what we have discussed, so they have a clear plan. 
“Mums are often tired and hormonal and they like to have that resource they can go back to. The information helps them to clarify things.
“I ask them to email me back within 24 hours to let me know how it’s going and whether they have any questions.” 
If someone is really struggling to latch, then they can book a follow-up on Zoom. 
When new mums come to her, Sara often finds them feeling down and miserable as they struggle with breastfeeding. However their moods change following a session.
She added: “They come on board thinking everything is going wrong. 
“I feel like we can always break out a smile, focus on a positive mental attitude and let them know I’m here for them.
“I will virtually hold their hand through this and I think that’s really uplifting for their spirits. 
“We are all muddling along in our homes with whoever we live and we are not realising how valuable the face-to-face interaction is with somebody who is just focusing on you. 
“That’s been the biggest breakthrough for these women – that somebody is sitting there looking at them, listening to them and having an adult conversation.”
For those who may not be able to access Sara’s help, she has this general advice for any new mum struggling to get their baby to latch on.
She said: “I gently get the mums to sit in a chair, not a sofa, not a bed. Sit upright – it can be on the bottom of the stairs even. 
“Posture is really important. Mums need to be sitting upright and in control of how they are holding the baby.
“Pillows are great for support but when you’re trying to learn a latch, it’s more important you have a good posture yourself.  
“Don’t rush. Women really hurry to get the baby on the breast quickly and often if you just take it really slowly and wait for the baby to open its mouth really wide, that’s the most important thing.
“Women forget that, the babies don’t go on properly and they end up with sore nipples. These are two things that are really important. 
“I’ve developed my own technique over the years, but what I tend to do is see the ladies first and see what they’re doing.
“Because a lot of them have had input from midwives or other professionals and I know my teaching is different.
“I first want to see what level I’m working with. Because how a lady will latch their baby will tell me a lot about what I need to teach them.”