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When you’ve got a newborn who isn’t nursing properly, motherhood can be worrisome. Especially when you’re home alone, away from the lactation consultants or nursing staff at the hospital who can answer your questions.
Well, here’s some good news. Those professionals are now just a phone call away, thanks to the Tennessee Breastfeeding Hotline. The hotline, which went live in November, is manned 24/7 by a staff of lactation consultants, nurses, and counselors. Simply call (855) 4BF-MOMS. It is a free service.
“Lots of moms call us the first night they’re home from the hospital,” says executive director Helen Scott, R.N. “You think you’ve got it at the hospital but then you get home, everything goes out the window. You’ve got no nurse there, so you need guidance.”
Counselors find many new moms often just need reassurance, as they gradually learn how to trust their body and their maternal instincts. Calls range from questions about latching on, feeding frequency, and how to pump, to treating sore nipples, and storing breast milk. If something more critical is going on with mother or baby, counselors encourage them to call their pediatrician or OB-GYN. They also speak with dads to help them better understand best nursing practices and how to keep their partners calm.
The majority of calls come from women with newborns but questions can also arise as baby gets older. One mother with a 38-week-old wanted to know whether a prescription drug she had been given would affect her breast milk. After the initial conversation, moms receive a follow-up call 24 hours later to ensure that they and their baby are doing better. If women want more personalized care or need items such as a breast pump, they are referred to local lactation consultants or other community resources. The hotline is also equipped to help non-English speakers and those with hearing impairments, says Scott.
Tennessee joins Arizona as the only other state offering a 24/7 breastfeeding hotline. Scott says their existence has prompted calls from many state health departments interested in creating such a service for their residents. The hotline is grant funded through Le Bonheur Community Health and Well-being and the Tennessee Department of Health.
To learn more, go to the state’s website, breastfeeding.tn.gov/hotline or call the hotline, (855) 423-6667.