When it comes to feeding a newborn baby we’ve all heard the expression ‘breast is best’ however for some parents, breastfeeding brings unexpected challenges.
That’s where the Eurobodalla Breastfeeding Group (EBG) comes in. EBG’s leader, Michelle Mitchell, would like to see every parent receive the support they need.
“Sometimes there are problems with milk supply or difficulty ‘latching’ (where the baby struggles to attach to the breast), but there can be other problems too.”
Members can attend monthly meetings in Moruya where parents can share their experiences while their little ones play. There’s also a 24-hour helpline (1800 686 268) run by the Australian Breastfeeding Association.
“We know how hard it can be when it’s the middle of the night and you’re struggling with a hungry baby, or maybe you’re in pain,” Michelle says.
“And sometimes people just need some reassurance that everything is OK.”
Parents can also hire a hospital grade double breast pump through EBG with help to get it up and running, but well before that breastfeeding classes are held regularly which aim to get expectant parents started confidently, through good real world advice and support.
According to the Commonwealth Department of Health, breastfeeding provides babies with the best start in life and is a key contributor to infant health. Australia’s infant feeding guidelines recommend exclusive breastfeeding of infants
Australia’s infant feeding guidelines recommend exclusive breastfeeding of infants for the first six months of life when solid foods are introduced and then continued breastfeeding until the age of 12 months and beyond if both mother and infant wish.
The Department says that evidence shows breastfed babies are less likely to suffer from digestive and respiratory illnesses, middle ear infection, type 1 diabetes and childhood leukemia.
They say that breastfeeding also benefits mothers through faster recovery from childbirth; reducing the risks of breast and ovarian cancers in later life, and reduced maternal depression.
“Breastfeeding is the most natural, normal way to feed a child, and although most women start off breastfeeding their baby, less than half of them are still doing it at 4 months,” Michelle Mitchell says.
“There are lots of reasons women can find it hard to keep breastfeeding.
“Sometimes women encounter stigma – they feel like they’re getting funny looks for breastfeeding their baby, especially in public. That can make it harder to keep going,” she says.
And so as well as giving personal support to breastfeeding parents the Eurobodalla Breastfeeding Group works hard to normalise breastfeeding in the community, consulting with Eurobodalla Shire Council on creating ‘breastfeeding friendly’ public spaces, and working with local businesses to display ‘Breastfeeding Welcome Here’ stickers.
The EBG provides breastfeeding facilities at lots of local events, (keep an eye out for their cool teepee) and there’s always someone willing to chat.
And if you are a local business and you’d like a ‘Breastfeeding Welcome Here’ sticker, get in touch!
Words by Moruya Mum, Fiona Whitelaw.