Enhancing workplace satisfaction for expectant and new mothers with telehealth

By Dr. Sylvia Romm, Medical Director, American Well

Over the past few years, companies have begun to introduce new policies and benefits that support working mothers. These benefits range from paid maternity leave to nursing rooms and flexible hours. Telemedicine is one benefit that can have an enormous impact on the everyday satisfaction and productivity of working mothers. Many employers offer telehealth for urgent care and behavioral health – in fact, the National Business Group on Health’s recent benefits survey found that 96 percent of employers offer or plan to offer telehealth in the next year. An even newer trend is the use of telemedicine from the prenatal period through infancy and beyond for both mother and child for urgent care, nutrition, and breastfeeding support.

Urgent care telehealth pre- and post-pregnancy

Pregnancy can be an exciting time full of anticipation and hope for expectant mothers. Of course, many women also experience significant discomfort as their bodies change with their growing child. From morning sickness to heartburn, pregnancy can cause even normally healthy women to reach out to their doctors frequently. Many of the health concerns that expectant mothers face can be addressed through telemedicine, saving lengthy trips to the OB/GYN or emergency room for more serious conditions. Telemedicine urgent care clinicians can address common pregnancy discomforts like nausea, fatigue, dehydration, breast tenderness, heartburn and morning sickness—all from the convenience of the mother’s home or office.

After the baby is born, telemedicine urgent care visits can be convenient and affordable for both the parent and child. With a new baby in the house, a common condition like sinusitis can mean an agonizing decision for the parent. Access to childcare, difficulties leaving the house, and plain exhaustion can all be barriers to accessing appropriate care in a timely manner. With telemedicine care for these moms, seeing a physician for an appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan is as easy and convenient as tapping a button on a phone or computer.

When the infant is a few months old, many questions parents may have about simple colds, rashes, and other pediatric problems can be effectively assessed and triaged by trained telemedicine providers. Telemedicine care can save parents time and prevent the baby from being exposed to infections commonly found in urgent care centers and emergency rooms.

Depending on where the mother is based, she can see specialists through the American Well Exchange. Mothers in Florida can see a Nemours pediatrician and mothers in Ohio can choose to see a Cleveland Clinic nurse practitioner.

Breastfeeding support for new mothers

Many mothers find that professional support is necessary for successful breastfeeding. American Well has International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) available to help mothers meet their own breastfeeding goals. IBCLCs offer the highest level of training for professional breastfeeding support, with thousands of hours of breastfeeding support experience. Since babies start feeding within the first hour of life, breastfeeding support can start before the baby is born, with proper education on appropriate newborn breastfeeding techniques. After the baby is born, common reasons to see an IBCLC with a telemedicine visit include latching support, pumping guidance, increasing milk supply, tips on returning to work, and weaning.

Nutrition consultations for mothers and newborns

A mother’s nutrition affects not only her own health, but also the health of the unborn baby. Eating a well-balanced diet is essential to supporting a healthy baby and starts even before pregnancy begins. The maternal diet determines the baseline health for a child, and provides a model for the infant’s eating habits during childhood and beyond.

Registered dietitians (RDs) can help expectant mothers manage their weight during pregnancy, helping to prevent gestational diabetes. If a woman is diagnosed with gestational diabetes, RDs can help create a diet that keeps blood sugars within a healthy range. Once the baby is born, RDs can work with the mother to maintain a healthy diet while breastfeeding and appropriately manage post-partum weight loss. For the new baby, RDs can help manage introduction of solid foods, as well as establishing a balanced diet for a picky eater.

Behavioral health for postpartum depression

It’s estimated that one in seven women experience postpartum depression (PPD) following the birth of their baby. Postpartum depression can appear days or even months after delivering a baby, and it can last for weeks or months if left untreated. New mothers suffering from PPD often find it hard to get through the day, and it can affect their ability to take care of themselves as well as their new baby.

New mothers experiencing PPD can see psychiatrists via telehealth to get the help they need. This is especially convenient for new moms who may have trouble finding time to address this depression.

The challenges of pregnancy and new motherhood can be daunting, but with professional help accessible conveniently at home through telemedicine, employers can offer a new benefit to mothers that enhances their physical and mental well-being and greatly increases loyalty and satisfaction with their employer.