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Building for Maternal Health Equity 

Lactation consultant with patient

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This content has been reviewed for accuracy by Mike Cantor, Chief Medical Advisor at Aeroflow Health.

Dive into our blog inspired by our webinar, “Building for Maternal Health Equity: Addressing Barriers to Preventative Care,” where we unpack the intriguing findings from Aeroflow Breastpumps‘ recent independent study, discover key insights and standout observations that shed light on essential aspects of maternal care and explore the nuances between CLCs, IBCLCs, and doulas. For a deeper understanding and comprehensive insights, don’t miss the chance to watch the webinar playback.

 What were some of the most outstanding findings from the recent independent study supported by Aeroflow Breastpumps?

Amanda: There is a lot of data worth noting here. For example, 76% of respondents indicated access to tools, resources and support related to breastfeeding/lactation were very important or extremely important. And with that, 1 in 3 indicated it was difficult to access support. What is even more interesting to note about that number is that out of the mother’s who said they struggled finding support, 0% were white women and 13% identified as Asian, Black or African American. According to their experience, the struggle has been due to lack of time due to childcare responsibilities, lack of finances, or their doctors did not explain/provide support. When mother’s don’t receive proper education and support, they are more likely to have a difficult maternal journey. Not only did the study delve into resources and support but it also touched on mental health. Out of the mom’s surveyed, 74% indicated that breastfeeding/lactation challenges impacted their mental health. Only 4% said it did not impact them at all – this was true consistently across all subgroups. These results can be very discouraging. Our hope is that health plans recognize the need to provide equitable access to solutions like lactation consultants and doulas to meet mom’s where they are and give the education and support that every mother deserves. To view another valuable Aeroflow Breastpumps Survey, click here.

What is the difference between a CLC, IBCLC and Doula? How does their care differ?

Kiera: A doula is a trained professional who offers emotional and physical support to individuals and couples before, during, and after childbirth. Their primary focus is on providing comfort, advocacy, and guidance during labor and the postpartum period. Doulas are not medical professionals but rather experienced companions who empower birthing individuals to make informed choices about their birth experiences. While a doula’s role revolves around childbirth support and emotional well-being, a CLC specializes in helping new parents with breastfeeding. They are trained to address common breastfeeding challenges, provide education on proper latching and positioning, and offer guidance to ensure a successful breastfeeding experience. On the other hand, an ICBLC is the highest level of lactation specialist, equipped to handle more complex breastfeeding issues. They undergo extensive training and can assist with more challenging cases. In summary, a doula focuses on emotional and physical support during childbirth, while a CLC and ICBLC are experts in breastfeeding support, with the ICBLC being the most advanced in handling intricate breastfeeding challenges. Each plays a valuable role in the journey of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum care.

How can lactation consultants and doulas positively impact a mother’s mental health journey?

Leteace: Lactation consultants and doulas play a significant role in enhancing a mother’s mental well-being throughout the phases of pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. Here’s how we make a positive impact:

  • Emotional Support: We offer mothers a supportive environment to openly discuss their emotions, leaving them feeling empowered and self-assured. Our goal is to create a “safe space” where they can find emotional strength.
  • Brain-Boob Connection” Class: Through Aeroflow Breastpumps, we conduct specialized classes that explore the profound connection between the mind and body during pregnancy and postpartum. These sessions include practical stress reduction techniques and exercises we engage in together.
  • Stress Reduction: Our mere presence and assistance can alleviate the stress and anxiety experienced by new or experienced mothers who may otherwise feel isolated. We provide reassurance and support, diminishing emotional burdens.
  • Community Building: We facilitate a weekly “Mom’s Circle” via Zoom, where mothers can come together to form a community, engaging and supporting each other at no cost.
  • Educational Guidance: We offer educational support to prepare mothers for childbirth, early breastfeeding, and the postpartum period. Our classes, such as “Birth and Breastfeeding” and “Ultimate Breastfeeding Prep,” equip mothers with the “what to expect” readiness they need.
  • Addressing Breastfeeding Challenges: As an IBCLC, we assist mothers in navigating early breastfeeding difficulties, recognizing that successful breastfeeding can reduce the risk of postpartum mood disorders. Timely addressing of these challenges is essential for maternal mental health.
  • Promoting Bonding: Our support extends to helping mothers strengthen their bonds with their babies, which is protective for their mental health.

In summary, lactation consultants and doulas are dedicated to positively impacting mothers’ mental health by offering emotional support, building community, providing education, addressing challenges, and fostering maternal-child bonding throughout the unique journey of pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum stages.

What are some of the major barriers/gaps that have kept the integrative care model for moms from coming to fruition? 

Kiera: Creating access to breastfeeding support is very important for new and expecting moms. The most common barriers that create a gap in care is the lack of in-network providers, telehealth options, long wait times and visibility to where they can go to receive care.  Having to plan, prepare and pay for childcare is a barrier that telehealth options could aid. Also, when health plans provide directories that show up to date in-network providers and specialists, it lessens the chance that moms will have to pay copays and deductibles. An example of how Aeroflow has been providing quick and easy access to care is the scheduling model via Lactation Link. If a mom is looking to schedule time with a lactation consultant, she can schedule a same day appointment all via an online portal. IBCLC’s  and CLC’s will always be the gold standard for breastfeeding education. When health plans provide in-network access to these types of specialists, they are choosing to meet moms where they are and partner in their motherhood journey. 

If you are passionate about addressing health disparities and ensuring comprehensive lactation and doula care for both mothers and babies to close critical HEDIS care gaps, we encourage you to schedule time with our team. You can schedule time below to learn how our program can make a significant impact in promoting maternal and infant health through lactation and doula support.
Kiera Walsh, CD(DONA), CLC

Kiera Walsh, CD(DONA), CLC

Kiera Walsh is a dedicated agent of change in the realm of maternal and infant care, driven by the transformative force of education. As a DONA Certified Birth Doula, Postpartum Doula, and Certified Lactation Counselor, she passionately advocates for the vital role of education in shaping well-informed birth, postpartum, and breastfeeding experiences. 


Leteace Lee

Leteace Lee

Leteace Lee, RNC-Maternal and Newborn Care, Full Spectrum Doula, and IBCLC is a Lactation Consultant and Educator with Aeroflow Breastpumps. Leteace is a Holistic Mother-Baby Advocate, who specializes in prenatal and postpartum breastfeeding support and birth education. Currently located in MD, she offers virtual lactation consultations to women everywhere.

Kellie Green

Kellie Green

Kellie Green is the founder and owner of Green Living & Wellness. She is a Speech Pathologist and International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant credential. Driven by her own struggles to breastfeed, she takes pride in providing the best care possible. Her mission is to give families a great beginning, supporting them from birth and beyond to help them reach their feeding goals. She offers in office services for those local to Columbus, OH and virtually, wherever you are, via telehealth. With Aeroflow, Kellie teaches: Birth & Breastfeeding, Navigating Maternity Leave, Pumping 101, Solids, Ultimate Breastfeeding Prep.

Sarah Law

Sarah Law

Sarah-Ashley Law is a Registered Nurse and IBCLC. She started her career in newborn intensive care and worked there for over 8 years while working in the NICU she found a love of supporting families on their feeding journeys and loved learning all about breastmilk’s role in helping preterm babies grow and thrive. So in 2019 she transitioned to lactation and became an IBCLC. She has worked in postpartum, NICU, outpatient clinic, homes and virtually with Aeroflow. Sarah-Ashley teaches Ultimate Breastfeeding Prep, Pumping 101, Sleep for the Breastfed Baby, Babycare for the Breastfed Baby and Solids for the Breastfed Baby.

Amanda Minimi

Amanda Minimi

Amanda is the Director of Corporate Development at Aeroflow Healthcare, the largest provider of breastfeeding equipment and services in the nation. Amanda has led Aeroflow Healthcare's health plan partnership initiatives where there collaboration-based solutions have led to better outcomes through high patient engagement and increased instances and duration of breastfeeding. Amanda also serves as the co-chair of AAHomeCare's Breastfeeding Coalition, a team that works with states and health plans to advocate to reduce barriers in access to breastfeeding.

Information provided on the Aeroflow Health blog is not intended as a substitute to medical advice or care. Aeroflow Health recommends consulting a doctor if you are experiencing medical issues or concerns.

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