Preparing to Breast Feed:
Pregnancy is an exciting, yet uncertain, time for expectant mums. There is a lot to think about – is my baby healthy? What is my birthing plan?
Because of this, breastfeeding often comes as an afterthought for most mums. However pregnancy, particularly early pregnancy, is when you should be thinking about breastfeeding. Mothers who commit to breastfeeding during pregnancy are more likely to breastfeed their babies for a longer period of time compared with mothers who decide after the birth of their baby.
Breastfeeding is beneficial to both mother and child; it promotes faster maternal recovery from childbirth, and decreases a woman’s risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer later in life. Breastfed babies are better able to fight infections, have a decreased risk of developing asthma and allergies, have a decreased risk of SIDS and have a lower risk of developing illnesses, such as heart disease, in later life. Babies who are breastfed have better jaw development, with breast milk also enhancing eyesight, intelligence and speech.
Australian studies show that from an initial breastfeeding rate of 92% at birth, there is a sharp decline in the months following, with only 14% of babies being breastfed at 6 months. For those able to breastfeed, it is recommended your baby be fed only breast milk for the first six months, before introducing other foods and fluids. Breast milk has been identified as having all the nutrients a baby needs and is the best food option. Ideally all babies should still be breastfed at six months, and only be weaned when you and baby are ready.
There are a number of factors to consider when deciding if and how long you want to breastfeed. The most common considerations include time, finances and support. For the working mum, she must consider her maternity leave arrangements and if her workplace is supportive of breastfeeding. Ideally, workplaces would be breastfeeding-friendly and enable mothers to breastfeed their babies or express milk while at work. Speak with your employer, consider your options and be prepared before returning to work.
Support from partners, family, friends, colleagues and health professionals have a major impact on if, and how long, a woman will breastfeed. To increase your chances of successful breastfeeding, it is important to establish a supportive network and surround yourself with those who understand and support your decisions.
Breastfeeding is also cost-effective. It is free, requires no preparation and can be done anywhere and at any time. Depending on how much your baby requires, formula can be a costly endeavour. Formula is expensive, requires careful preparation and is not as nutritionally sound for your baby compared with breast milk.
Being prepared and committed to breastfeeding in the early stages of pregnancy, and surrounding yourself with a strong and supportive network of family, friends and colleagues, ensures you are setting your baby up for a healthy future. Breastfeeding is a learned art; although it is a normal and natural process, it requires commitment and dedication to become confident in breastfeeding.
The local Portland group of the Australian Breastfeeding Association can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/abaportland. The group consists of trained counsellors and local mums, and is a great way to meet and chat with others. Alternatively, trained counsellors are available 24/7 through the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 1800 686 268, to provide free and confidential support and information and to address any question or concerns you may be experiencing with breastfeeding. For those who have had previous problems with breastfeeding, it is recommended you discuss this with a counsellor and create a plan before birth.
Local health services can also provide support and information – speak with the Midwifery team at the hospital on 5521 0691 or with Children and Family Services on 5522 2211. Victorian Maternal and Child Health Nurses can also be contacted through the free 24/7 Maternal and Child Health Line on 13 22 29.
Breast Feeding Friendly Venues:
A number of Portland businesses and organisations have now made breastfeeding mums feel more welcome through the local Australian Breastfeeding Association branch’s Breastfeeding Welcome Here campaign. Participating venues will display stickers to indicate they are accessible by pram, smoke-free and happy to have mums breastfeed there.
These great venues are:
– Active Health Portland, 148-150 Percy St Portland (medical and allied health practice)
– Guardian Chemist, Percy St (ask to have a seat put next to the toddler’s play area if you need to keep another child entertained too)
– Intimate Apparel, Percy St (lingerie retailer)
– Julia St Creative Space, gallery space at rear of building on Julia St (community arts centre, shop and gallery)
– Portland Arts Centre, corners Bentinck and Glenelg Streets (art gallery and performance venue)
– Portland District Health, Fern St (public hospital and community health service)
– Portland Leisure and Acquatic Centre, Bentinck St (swimming pool, gym and creche – fee for entry)
– Portland Library, Bentinck St near intersection with Gawler St
– Port of Call, Bentinck St (cafe)
– Richmond St Laundromat, Richmond St
– Royal Hotel bistro, corner Percy and Tyers Streets (restaurant)
– Squiddly Dids for Kids, Percy St (children’s clothes and accessories)
– Sunstream Wholefoods, Julia St (cafe and health food shop)
– Tea Tree Gallery (art gallery and cafe)
If you have a favourite pram-accessible, smoke-free public venue that you like to breastfeed at, or you think would be an ideal Breast Feeding Welcome Here venue, please let us know.