Did you ever listen to a piece of advice and decide that it was not appropriate for you? Well, that seems to be a reoccurring issue across health facilities in Australia. Every day, new mothers are given the wrong information about their feeding options and this is damaging to
Only 10 facilities in New South Wales follow the Baby Friendly Health Initiative (BFHI) and according to the 2017 Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy, there are a range of factors identified that have led to inaccurate advice from health professionals on breastfeeding issues.
(Chloe Trayhurn 2015)
Have a look at some of the advice mothers have been incorrectly given:
MOTHERS WERE TOLD TO BREASTFEED LESS because…
“I was told by a child health nurse that my daughter was too big and I should breastfeed her less.”
“When my youngest was 2 months old, I was told in hospital to space his breastfeeding out to 4 hours minimum as he was “obese”. This recommendation was made on an isolated weight and not considered alongside length and head circumference measurements. I called the paediatrician out on his advice being in direct breach of the BFHI 10 steps. His only response was “well infant obesity is a bigger issue”.
ABOUT BREASTFEEDING AT NIGHT…
“When my son was about 8 months, I had an appointment with child health nurse and she told me I shouldn’t be breastfeeding my son at night at all and to just offer water. Also he needed to be eating at least 3 meals a day before feeds and also only have 3 breast feeds a day. I am proud to say still breastfeeding my son now at just over 2 years.”
“The Child Health Nurse I saw for baby’s check-up at 8 months told me I needed to stop breastfeeding him at night as he didn’t need it. He was just waking up out of habit and to just give him water to make him sleep.”
PUSHING FOR FORMULA TOP-UPS WITHOUT REVIEWING OTHER METHODS:
“Went for breastfeeding support at CFH instantly got told to use top-ups just to check if Bub is getting enough and to stretch my boy to fourth hourly at 2 months! Paediatrician told me breast milk isn’t beneficial after 6 months. Paediatrician told me my only option was to switch to formula as my son is CMPA has allergy to egg and other intolerances. When I asked why I couldn’t remove these instead from my own diet he said it was too hard. Dietician told me top-ups would 100% not decrease my supply”
There has unfortunately also been a lack of support in hospitals for breastfeeding as well:
FORCED TO GIVE FORMULA
“A midwife came at night and started telling me all these things that bub is hungry and my milk hasn’t come in and the bub hasn’t had anything to eat since birth and came in with a blood sugar test and said her levels were extremely low. Now there was no one with me and I never attended any prenatal birth classes or paid attention to breastfeeding so had no idea that colostrum is way better than the actual milk. She told me if I don’t sign the consent form to give her formula, I will starve her and something bad would happen.”
LACK OF FEEDING SUPPORT WITH OPTIONS…
Formula offered regularly from XXX Hospital. Formula and a teat brought in placed on my table, without me asking for it. Nurse gave my friend (taking me home) 3 bottles of XXX Formula to take with us for the trip. Zero help getting baby to attach.
These are just some of the struggles and experiences that mothers have faced postpartum which is so shocking and heartbreaking to hear. This is why education and support of all feeding and options and choices should be readily available to mothers and their families to ensure that the appropriate choice for feeding is selected.
The Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy recommends the development of the following initiatives:
- Require health professionals to undertake evidence-based breastfeeding education and training 📚. This should be part of the undergraduate curriculum for midwives, nurses, neonatologists and doctors.
- Empower and support women with their infant feeding decisions 🍼 Feeding options should be experienced as normal and healthy and focused on the individual, rather than part of the economic/fiscal policy
- Health facilities to provide education and resources to expectant mothers both in the hospital and post-partum at home. This could involve providing access to publicly funded specialist lactation support services. You can find your local specialist on the Australian Breastfeeding Association website.
So, what can we do about it?
- Help support and educate mothers and their families by providing your experiences
- Asking your local hospital about the👶Baby Friendly Health Initiative and if possible, choosing a facility that has this initiative implemented
- Try to do some research online, or have a read through our Information section
- SUPPORT AND LOVE💖!
If you have any of your own experiences or stories about your experiences about inaccurate health advice, please comment down below!