World Breastfeeding Week 2020 - The First Nations perspective

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

As part of our celebration of World Breastfeeding Week today we hear from Cassandra Nest, Clinical Midwife Consultant, Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service. She writes:

“Your midwife is your skilled breastfeeding companion!”

Yuumma! (Hello) My name is Cassandra Nest and I am a Clinical Midwife Consultant for the Waijungbah Jarjums service at Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service with a joint appointment with Griffith University as the First Peoples Midwifery Lecturer. Breastfeeding week is my favourite week of the year second to NAIDOC week and I have written this little article to provide a small insight into the role of the midwife in promoting and supporting breastfeeding.

Did you know that breastfeeding is associated with a reduction in infections, SIDS, obesity, childhood cancers, asthma AND that exclusively breastfeeding your baby for three months reduces the risk of diabetes later in life by 19-27 per cent? No wonder midwives refer to breastmilk as liquid gold!

A midwife is a skilled companion in supporting new mothers to initiate breastfeeding in the first few weeks of life. A positive experience in the first two weeks of a baby’s life sets mum and bub up for a positive and sustainable breastfeeding journey and a positive breastfeeding journey for future pregnancies. It is an integral part of the role of the midwife to ensure babies get the best possible start to life in initiating breastfeeding in a way that acknowledges the woman and her support systems, social, cultural and emotional health and wellbeing, and takes into consideration and addresses any past traumas that may hinder the breastfeeding journey.

The journey to breastfeeding commences well before the birth of the baby with antenatal education provided by the midwife on the benefits of breastfeeding for both the mum, baby and community. Midwives provide this information to promote breastfeeding and breastmilk as the ideal food for infants as it is safe, clean and contains antibodies which help protect against many illnesses. The evidence-based information provided by midwives assists families to make informed decisions about how they feed their baby. Midwives are there to support during your breastfeeding journey and are an encyclopedia to be utilised.

The model of care I work in, Waijungbah Jarjums, offers continuity of care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families from conception to the First 1,000 Days. We believe so strongly in the benefits of breastfeeding and human milk for human babies that we support our mums that are at risk of premature birth, low birth weight babies, and delayed milk supply with one week’s supply of donor breast milk from The Mothers Milk Bank to ensure the bubs birthing in our service get the best start in life whilst their mother’s milk is coming in.

In the spirit of breastfeeding week, if you are currently breastfeeding I encourage you to reach out to your local milk bank to yarn about being a donor and helping other bubs have the best possible to start to life also.

Yarra (Goodbye)

For more information on midwifery in Queensland, visit our website or more information on breastfeeding (for clinicians) is available here.

Last updated: 4 August 2020