Mothers sometmes ask what they need to do to be ready for us when we arrive at their homes and for every person who asks, there's probably ten who wonder but weren't brave enough to bring it up. Home-visit services of any kind are rare these days, so it's hard to know what to bother with and what's not important. Here's our best advice for Do's and Don'ts:
Do Print out the Forms
Do download, print, and fill out our consult forms ahead of time if at all possible. If you don't have a printer or can't get time to do it, it's absolutely fine -- we'll bring copies and complete them when we get there. But if you can fill them out beforehand, it will save about a half hour or even more and give us a running start for the consult. (Don't worry if you don't know every answer.) Eventually, we hope to have the forms available in an online submittable form to make things even easier.
Do Feed Your Baby
In most cases (except with prenatal consults, premature babies still in the hospital, relactation situations, or other special cases), we will want to work with you and your baby through a feeding. This will mean that your baby needs to be hungry and alert enough to want to have a full feeding. But it shouldn't mean that your baby is so hungry and frustrated from waiting that he or she can't calm enough to nurse well.
Our best recommendation is to try to work feedings before our consultation appointment so that the last full feeding is an hour and a half before we arrive (little comfort nursings in between are absolutely fine).
After you finish that feeding, keep your baby in skin-to-skin contact (baby undressed down to the diaper lying against your or your partner's bare chest, with a blanket over the two of you if it is cold). This will go a long way to helping your baby be in the best frame of mind for our time together.
If your or the baby's schedule doesn't work out this way, please give us a call or text so we can decide whether or not we need to reschedule.
Do Feed Yourself
Be sure to eat nutritiously and drink fluids before our consultation so you feel at your best for the work we need to do.
Do Think about Who You Want to Attend the Consult
We're happy to have anyone attend the consultation that *you* want to be there. That includes partners, grandparents, great-grandparents, other family members, friends, and children. It's absolutely fine with us if some of these people are male as long as *you're* comfortable having them there.
Our only concern with having other people attend the consult is that we want you to feel fully supported and encouraged while we're working on breastfeeding. If someone wants to attend whom you don't want to be there but you don't want to upset them by telling them, we are happy to be the "bad guys" who gently and politely ask for privacy. Just let us know beforehand if you can.
If this isn't your first baby, you may have other children around while we are there. If they're young, they may feel they want to be with you when a new person comes into the home. This is very understandable and normally great (we're moms and we adore kids), but consults are generally easier when you can concentrate on the new baby without needing to worry about taking care of the other children. For the short time we're there, it might be helpful to have someone available to watch them in a separate area if at all possible.
Do Let us Know if You Prefer for Us to Remove Our Shoes at Your Front Door
This is a custom in many homes and we are very happy to remove our shoes if you'd like us to.
Do Think about Where You'll Want to Do the Consult
Some mothers prefer to work in the living room, some prefer to work in baby's room, and some prefer to work in their bedroom. It doesn't matter to us at all, and sometimes we end up working in several places in the home so that we address all your concerns. When we arrive, we'll ask where you usually nurse -- that's usually the best place to start.
Do Have Your Breastfeeding Tools Handy
If you have been using a nipple shield, at-breast supplementer, pump, or any other breastfeeding tool, it will help to have them within reach during the consultation in case we need to use them. We'll bring our own tools, of course, but we're happy to work with what you already have whenever possible.
IF YOU'RE ALREADY SUPPLEMENTING, Do Have Pumped Milk, Formula, and Bottles Handy and Ready to Go
If you already began supplementing with pumped milk or formula, we may need to use it during the consultation, so it will help to have it already prepared. If you're using bottles, go ahead and fill one with two ounces (or as much as you have) of pumped milk or two ounces of formula (don't mix pumped milk and formula). If the bottle or artificial nipple you're using isn't the best one for breastfeeding, we'll talk about it during the consult, but it usually will be fine for supplementing while we are there. We'll focus on showing you the best ways to give the supplement to your baby that support breastfeeding.
Do Think about How You'll Want to Pay for the Consultation
We won't expect payment until the consultation has been completed, but when that time comes it will help to know how you prefer to pay. We try to make payment as painless as possible and accept cash, checks, and all major credit cards (we can process cards on site). Our services are eligible for flex-spending accounts and about half of all flex-spending account debit cards recognize us as eligible services and work through our payment processing system (so it's always worth trying).
Do Contact your Insurance Company to See if They Cover Our Services
This isn't a necessary step, but you might be pleasantly surprised to find out that your insurance company will reimburse you for a least a portion of our services. We will provide a "superbill" that has the diagnostic codes necessary for reimbursement, and we have lots of information on this website for helping you to get as much reimbursement as possible.
Even if they tell you that they don't cover the services, don't be discouraged. Sometimes that's the default answer, but insurance companies will still pay if all the proper paperwork is submitted.
Do Think about What you Want to Understand and Learn during the Consult
Our services don't end when we leave, so you'll be able to call, text, or email any questions that come up later, but we want to make sure we've answered all your major concerns while we're talking face-to-face. Feel free to bring up anything on your mind. No question or concern is silly. Really. :)
Don't Get Dressed
We don't care one little bit what you're wearing so long as you can easily lift, open, or remove your top for easy nursing (if your baby is latching). Wear your pajamas or sweats if you want to. It may help not to have a bra to fiddle with, but even that's not a big deal.
Likewise, don't worry about dressing your baby in a cute outfit. In most cases, we'll be taking it off to to assess him or her and breastfeed.
Don't Worry About Taking Care of Us
You don't need to offer us anything to eat or drink. It's very kind, but we don't have extra hands to handle drinks or food while we are working with you and your baby. We carry drinks and snacks in our cars, so we'll be fine. We also won't use your bathroom for anything but washing our hands unless we absolutely can't wait.
Don't Worry about Your Pets
We love cats and dogs and don't mind them at all as long they can give us space to work with you (after they sniff out our scale and consult bags, of course). If your pet is fearful of strangers or aggressive, though, it might be a good idea to move him or her to an area away from where we'll be working together. If you have spiders or reptiles, particularly hairy spiders or any kind of snake, we might prefer to work in a separate room. :)
Don't Worry about Breastfeeding Pillows
We don't use them because we find they don't work well for most mothers. We'll work with the pillows on your bed or sofa. We like to keep it simple and low-tech.
Don't Worry about How Messy Your Home Is
We really, truly don't care at all. We're not coming to judge your housekeeping skills, we're coming to help you breastfeed. A house that's too perfect means you're spending time taking care of the house and not the baby (unless your family is doing the housework, then it's perfectly fine). All we need is easy access to a sink (it doesn't matter if it's filled with dishes) so we can wash our hands and room to work with you and your baby on a sofa or bed. We've seen homes in every state you can imagine and all we remember are the wonderful mothers and babies inside them, because that's all that really matters.
Don't Hesitate to Contact Us
That's what we're here for. We want you to feel you know everything you need to so that you can breastfeed as easily as possible. Feel free to call, email, or text with any questions and concerns you have at any point in your breastfeeding journey.