2 September 2019
We hear in the media about how ‘breast is best’ and of course as a health care professional I need to give women and their families evidence-based information to enable them to make an informed choice about how to feed their babies.
Breast milk provides babies with things that we just cannot manufacture and certainly has huge benefits for both mother and baby but if a woman chooses not to breast feed then there is no shame in that.
Formula milk is readily available to everyone (although it can get a little expensive) and is the closest thing to breast milk that we can manufacture. During my time as a student midwife I have seen a variety of feeding experiences and difficulties for both breast feeding mothers and formula feeding mothers.
Being a new mother is difficult for most and it’s a huge learning curve for everyone (including the baby!!!). I have been fortunate enough as a student to have the extra time to assist new families in feeding their baby in a way that suits the family and keeps the baby full of milk. I have spent hours with breast feeding mothers, helping them with positioning and attachment and giving top tips to enable the smoothest ride possible. I have also spent hours with bottle feeding mothers, showing them how to sterilise the bottles and how to make up feeds.
At university we have an infant feeding specialist who is actually a lactation consultant and is very, very knowledgeable. We are taught the best skills in assisting mothers to attach the baby to the breast but also have lectures on formula feeding. The BSc (Hons) Midwifery pre-registration course was awarded full UNICEF Baby Friendly Accreditation in July 2014 due to Martina Donaghy's hard work and dedication to breastfeeding. I can safely say she has taught me all I know about breastfeeding and the time and effort she puts into teaching us what we need to know has benefited us all in practice, allowing us to assist with breastfeeding.
Of course learning how to assist women in university is a bit different to doing it in practice, but the more you offer to assist the women and babies the more your confidence will grow. It’s a lovely feeling when you spent quality time with women, their babies and their families to assist with getting breastfeeding off to a good start. Having the knowledge taught in university, alongside some patience and practice really does enable you to help women.
I hope to continue to assist with feeding throughout my career and tackle any issues along the way ensuring the mothers' wishes are met and babies have full tummies!