Today we continue our celebration of World Breastfeeding Week with an opinion piece from Martha Wood, Clinical Midwife, from the Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service. She writes:
Breastfeeding education and support are core business for midwives and it’s often a pivotal time in the early postnatal period.
As a midwife working in remote and rural areas for the last nine years, I know that breastfeeding can be complicated for women in these areas for a variety of reasons, including reduced access to support because of geographic distances, and differing cultural or familial perspectives on infant feeding.
While these challenges exist, so do opportunities and solutions. Establishing close working relationships with Indigenous Health Workers is essential to providing culturally safe and appropriate care. Utilising available technology, such as video conferencing, to support women in the community is also useful.
I also see great value in being very proactive with the educational moments that exist in the antenatal period that can be used with mothers to discuss breastfeeding benefits and mechanisms (including attachment and positioning), and for introducing helpful techniques like antenatal expressing.
Having access to a Lactation Consultant to contact for more specialised advice when complications arise is beneficial for me too. On many occasions I have relied on my colleagues to troubleshoot and share experiences to provide better care. Ultimately, I believe maintaining an open mind (and practice) in order to adapt to the many variations of breastfeeding journeys is critical to achieving a successful and fulfilling experience for the women and babies we care for.