By Anne-Marie Carter-McAuslan and Rachel Sutton

agh_logoWorld Breastfeeding Week 2013—August 1 to 7—reminds reminds midwives, physicians and nurses of the importance of assisting women to be successful in their breastfeeding relationship with their babies.

The theme of the week is Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers and it encourages support systems, including peer counselling. Information and a pledge to promote the peer counseling is available at www.worldbreastfeedingweek.org.

Midwives at Almonte General Hospital work hard to encourage breastfeeding, but support a woman’s chosen feeding method, including breastfeeding, pumping breast milk and formula feeding.

Clinic visits by midwives in the prenatal period inform women and their families about the benefits of breastfeeding and cover normal newborn behaviour and breastfeeding progression. Hospital and home postpartum visits provide positive support with referral to Lactation Consultants, if required.

In the past, ample support was available for other forms of infant feeding, but little was available for breastfeeding. Breastfeeding statistics collected by the midwives show a greater than 90 per cent success rate of exclusively breastfeeding at six weeks of age.

Support for breastfeeding comes also from Public Health Nurses, hospital phone consultation from nurses and La Leche League (a volunteer support program) www.lllc.ca.

Almonte General Hospital and the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit promote successful breastfeeding by discouraging mother and baby separation and encouraging skin-to-skin contact. This helps the mom and baby to learn nursing cues and get to know each other.

Smell is one of a newborn’s most acute senses. Even after a Caesarian section, parents are encouraged to have the baby skin-to-skin, either with mother or the mother’s partner. Skin-to-skin also encourages temperature regulation and bonding. Breastfeeding within an hour of birth is promoted by hospital staff and midwives.

Breastfeeding is the ideal choice for infant feeding. Even feeding pumped breastmilk is excellent, giving the baby many antibodies and protection against gastrointestinal or respiratory infections, and as well as many other well researched benefits for both mother and infant.

Ultimately, the most important factor in a woman’s breastfeeding success is for the mother to receive positive support and help from other mothers, family members, and health professionals.

Anne-Marie Carter-McAuslan and Rachel Sutton are Registered Midwives who practise with Ottawa Valley Midwives. They have privileges at Almonte General Hospital.