Mater Private Hospital, Sydney
When it comes to breastfeeding, the role that the community and family play in supporting a mother in is vital.
Empowering a mother, or the parents together, to choose what works for them means to enable them to breastfeed their child successfully and realise their breastfeeding goals.
Below are a few tips for mums which highlight the support that should be made available to them during the breastfeeding stage.
Your place of work
Many women mistakenly think they cannot breastfeed if they plan to return to work after childbirth however there are three key things your employer should provide for you:
- Space – You should be provided with a private space for you to feed your baby or express milk.
- Time – There should be a breastfeeding policy that clearly outlines the support for lactation breaks to allow you time to feed/express during working hours.
- Support – There should be a comprehensive communication strategy in place for both stakeholders and staff which outlines the needs and considerations of breastfeeding staff/mothers. If this level of support is not in place, there needs to be a shift within the organisation to create a supportive environment.
If you are on maternity leave and are considering or planning a return to work, be sure to speak to your employer in advance about accessing the Australian Breastfeeding Association’s comprehensive ‘Return To Work’ toolkit. They are obligated by law to take reasonable measures to accommodate your breastfeeding needs.
The ABA’s toolkit includes in-depth information on finding solutions to common problems that might be encountered, and also includes templates and examples to help make the implementation process straightforward. Working through the toolkits will also set your organisation up to be eligible for Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace Accreditation.
When your child starts care, you can make arrangements with your childcare provider to allow you to keep breastfeeding. You can either breast feed your child or provide your child with expressed breastmilk while they are in childcare.
Your childcare provider:
- Cannot refuse your application for a childcare place, or not offer you a place, because your child is breastfed
- Cannot ask you to stop breastfeeding when your child starts in care
- Must let you breastfeed or express milk on the premises
- Cannot refuse to feed your expressed breastmilk to your child
Breastfeeding in public
You can breastfeed and express anywhere that suits you and your baby. You do not need to ask permission. It is your right.
Support at home
Breastfeeding happens more easily when the people closest to the breastfeeding mother support her. Being there for your breastfeeding partner as she learns to breastfeed will help you both share the role of caring for your baby. Here are five things you can do to support your partner in breastfeeding:
- Understand the importance of breastfeeding. Breast feeding is the normal way to feed babies. Refrain from suggesting formula at the sign of first difficulty –be aware of the extra support available.
- Support your partner when she feeds your baby in public, rather than suggesting covering up or going somewhere else to nurse.
- Give support as she learns to breastfeed. Remember to tell her you think she is doing a great job and how proud of her you are. Help her to relax with a shoulder rub, or take care of baby while she showers.
- Do as much as you can at home, ensure your partner is able to rest, eat regularly and drink plenty of water. If possible take some leave from work.
- Be patient with her emotions. Simply listen to your partner or just keep her company, and with patience – which is often all she needs.
The Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) runs the National Breastfeeding Helpline 1800 mum 2 mum (1800 686 268) which is available seven days a week. It is staffed by trained volunteer counsellors who answer calls on a roster system in their own homes. Private Lactation Consultants are available through the Lactation Consultants of Australia and New Zealand (LCANZ) (www.lcanz.org) and your local Early Childhood Centre. So do call when you feel you need the extra support.
Denise Condon is a Lactation Consultant at The Mater Private Hospital, one of Sydney’s leading maternity hospitals, and works with mothers in the first few days with their newborn to establish a good breastfeeding pattern. Denise has more than 35 years’ experience as a lactation consultant and as a midwife, and has delivered countless babies in her career. She is a member of the Lactaction Consultants of Australia & New Zealand (LCANZ) and the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA). www.matermaternity.com.au
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