World Breastfeeding Week 2016
by Candy Powell BSN, RN, IBCLC, RLC – MCHS Lactation Consultant
During World Breastfeeding Week 2016, we celebrated all the support that women receive – from partners, grandparents, IBCLC’s, breastfeeding specialists and voluntary support organizations.
The aphorism “it takes a village to raise a child” seems applicable to breastfeeding in this society, where families often lack cultural and practical knowledge.
Most women stop breastfeeding reluctantly, feeling that they have no other choice. Others start using formula but continue some breastfeeds. That is why MCH invests in support services, drops-ins, Baby Cafe, peer support and free lactation consults for patients that deliver here both during the prenatal period and after delivery of their baby.
The value of social support
Social support is vital in enabling breastfeeding; it is far more than just chatting. Breastfeeding depends on motivation, confidence and resilience as well as accurate practical information. Mothers often derive these most effectively from other mothers. The Baby Café model integrates skilled specialist care with social support. A recent evaluation of women’s experiences of breastfeeding support found reasons for attending varied from a need for general support, particularly for isolated women, to help with breastfeeding ‘crises’.
Research shows that women value authentic support, so they can develop trust in supporters, who listen with empathy, take time and affirm mothers’ own abilities.
“I always get the help I need. Always. No matter how silly the question is, they’ve always got an answer… it’s nice because they do remember your name, they do remember your baby, and it just feels, it feels nice. “
Partners and families can have a strong influence on decisions to breastfeed and can support women to continue, especially when they encounter breastfeeding difficulties.
“They kind of supported my husband to support me; he helped me once we got home with positioning and, you know, he would say, oh you remember about this position, why don’t you try that? “
The evaluation found that effective social support, combined with help from skilled practitioners, can enable women to overcome difficulties and continue feeding for as long as they would like.
Peer support: Helping mom on her road
In keeping with enhancing community support, the MCH Baby Café has partnered with WIC to train peer counselors, who provide one-to-one and group support and influence the perception of breastfeeding in communities.
We place high value on a non-judgmental, listening approach, enabling women to do what is right for them and their family. To make this a reality for more families we need a supportive culture so we will continue to work to change wider perceptions of breastfeeding and offering family-centered support.
For more information on Baby Café and breastfeeding assistance, please contact MCHS Lactation Consultant Candy Powell BSN, RN, IBCLC, RLC at (432) 640-1714 or Ashley Harry, RN at (432) 640-1784.