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Breastfeeding incentives? What do new mums really need?

breastfeeding incentivesI’m watching breakfast television this morning and the story about incentives for breastfeeding mums has caught my attention.

A pilot scheme in the UK is offering £200 worth of shop vouchers to mums who continue to breastfeed. The scheme has been launched in the areas of South Yorkshire and Derbyshire, where just one in four mums are breastfeeding by 6-8 weeks, compared to a national average of 55 per cent.

The trial and the surrounding debate has got me thinking about what would work to increase breastfeeding rates in Australia.

Australian statistics show that most mothers (96 per cent) initiate breastfeeding but by four months that number had dropped to 39 per cent.

So, most Aussie mums start with the intention of breastfeeding but something happens along the way.

Of course, there are those who don’t want to continue or couldn’t due to outside factors such as having to return to work full-time. But what about all those mums who DO want to … what are the issues getting in their way? How could these issues be addressed? Is it a matter of there being not enough support? Too much conflicting advice?

And whose responsibility is it to ensure women ARE being supported through any breastfeeding hardships they face? Who should be ensuring woman are receiving the right advice?

So many questions – would love to hear your thoughts and your own experiences with breastfeeding!

– REBECCA GALTON

Image credit: fiamoli/123RF Stock Photo

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One comment so far -

  1. I wish it was so easy, to give Mums a bit of cash to keep breastfeeding. I run a busy private lactation service in Brisbane and I’m always disappointed when I can’t help a Mum who really wants to keep breastfeeding. Often, I see the Mum when it’s too late and despite all of my efforts, I just can’t convince her to continue. I can hear you asking, “But you’re the expert, if you can’t help, who can?” Well again it’s just not that simple. By the time I see a lot of my Mums they have been struggling for more than 6 weeks, hanging onto the well meant comment that “It takes time, just persist!” Whilst this is true for most new Mothers, it is not always just a case of persisting. If there are issues preventing breastfeeding or hindering it, they need to be addressed as soon as possible, preferably within the first week. The two main reasons that Mothers stop breastfeeding are; perceived low milk supply and pain. There are many others but these two, if addressed early, can be solved. There are ways to increase milk supply if it really is low. Often extreme pain is caused by incorrect latch or inability to latch due to tongue tie or weakness etc.
    Unfortunately, Mothers and their new babies are being discharged home from hospital before their milk has ‘come in’. They are at home with a new baby who is becoming increasingly hungry, they are tired, hormones out of whack and suddenly their milk arrives. Great, but “How do I know if the baby is drinking? How do I know if he/she is getting enough? How do I latch? Breastfeeding is SO painful, my nipples are sore! My nipples are bleeding, I can’t put the baby on! What do I do about engorgement? I’m so tired!!! Baby won’t settle!!! He/she must be hungry! I mustn’t have enough milk!” And on and on it goes.
    I often WISH I could have just a few hours with each Mother-to-be BEFORE she gives birth. I WISH I could include their husband/partner and/or parents in my education session. I then WISH I could spend about 2 hours with the new Mother and baby within the first 3 days of birth and follow-up at one week and two weeks, 6 weeks and 3 months. I think I could really make a difference. Now I sound like I’ve got a big head! I don’t necessarily mean me personally, it would be impossible to see every new Mother. I mean myself and other IBCLCs (International Board Certified Lactation Consultants) and other Health Professionals who are qualified to empower new Mothers with the knowledge they need to succeed with breastfeeding. To some Mothers it comes naturally, to others it requires a gentle awakening of their instincts. Sometimes there are issues but most of the time these can be overcome if assistance if sought early.

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