Many hospitals treat breastfeeding instruction as an afterthought. According to Jada Shapiro, founder and director of Birth Day Presence, some have only one lactation consultant on staff—often with limited hours. On average, moms only spend 10 minutes with a lactation specialist before they’re sent home and expected to figure it out themselves. That’s why Shapiro founded Boober, a service that matches lactation professionals with moms who need help.
Boober is simple, but it’s transforming how new parents receive breastfeeding support. Anyone who needs help can simply text Boober at 347-688-5070 to get in touch with a real person (frequently Shapiro herself, but not always). Most parents, Shapiro says, then choose to speak on the phone to describe their problem although there’s also a texting option. (“People cry on the phone to me a lot,” she says.) Boober then matches the family with a lactation professional who can make a home visit as soon as possible, often the same day.
Boober works with two kinds of lactation professionals: Consultants and counselors. Consultants hold a more rigorous level of certification and are qualified to help in even the most complicated situations. Counselors are also thoroughly qualified, although the training is less rigorous. Regardless of certification level, they’re carefully vetted. Shapiro also knows many of the consultants and counselors personally through her work at Birth Day Presence and her general involvement in the community.
The cost of the visit varies based on qualification level. Shapiro says that a consultant visit is around $350-$450, while counselor visits usually run $225-$285. She also mentioned that Boober has begun offering visits from counselors working on their certification, which are significantly cheaper. Additionally, she says that many parents’ insurance plans cover out-of-network lactation professionals.
Often, Boober professionals aren’t called for especially difficult cases. “A lot times it’s simple stuff,” she says. For example, moms often need help relieving engorgement, which is a result of milk overproduction and causes swelling, making it difficult for the baby to latch on to the nipple. In this case, they simply need to manually extract the milk to relieve the swelling, a technique easily taught. But Boober professionals are also equipped to deal with more difficult cases, like babies who have been in the NICU and haven’t learned to breastfeed, and dangerous ones, like dehydrated babies who can’t gain weight or are losing it. “That’s trouble,” Shapiro says.
Shapiro wishes that more hospital staff members were instructed in the norms of breastfeeding, which would help prevent moms from worrying about normal situations. For example, she says, moms are often concerned that they’re not giving their baby enough milk because the baby asks for it so frequently. No one ever told them that babies usually need to feed every 60-90 minutes in the first few days. Shapiro also recommends that parents take a class in breastfeeding before the baby is born to help ease anxieties.
Shapiro sees Boober as part of the “modern village.” It gives parents someone able “to sit and listen and be present,” she says, and helps establish a network of support for them so they don’t feel isolated.
For more information on Boober, visit getboober.com!