Dr Michael Gannon, President of the AMA (Australian Medical Association) this week called for input from women’s groups about hospital policies of sending new mums home soon after giving birth and whether or not this is appropriate (see here for the article). In a joint effort between Breastfeeders in Australia and The Gentle Breastfeeder, last night we released a statement regarding this, and encouraged members to contact the AMA with their views. View my original post here. You can email Dr Gannon at [email protected] If you need some help writing an email, I have prepared a draft template that you can copy and personalise to send.
Below is a copy of the email I sent to Dr Gannon.
“Dear Dr Gannon
I refer to your recent comments regarding new mums being sent home soon after giving birth, published by ABC News. Thank you for using your position to question the way hospitals support women in establishing breastfeeding. I am writing to you on behalf of the Facebook group Breastfeeders in Australia. Our group was created in 2012 and we have 24,000 members. I also blog about breastfeeding issues as The Peaceful Lactivist on the Breastfeeders in Australia website.
The issue here is not only the length of time in hospital, but the standard of care around breastfeeding that is lacking. Breastfeeding support is inadequate, with many women receiving outdated advice. Many of our members are being guided towards non-evidence based practices while in hospital, such as:
• Baby being removed from mum immediately after birth for an extended period
• Introducing formula without a discussion about alternatives or the risks involved
• Conflicting information about breastfeeding
• Timed breastfeeds and scheduled feeds
We call for the following improvements to be implemented, with the recognition that successfully establishing breastfeeding and the known health benefits could save the healthcare system millions each year:
• All Australian hospitals to be BFHI (Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative) certified
• All medical professionals that come into contact with pregnant, birthing and post-partum women be required to undertake further training in breastfeeding
• All women have access to an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) while in hospital for a full-length consultation and assessment of any feeding issues, including oral restrictions such as tongue ties
• IBCLC consultations within 12 months post birth to attract a full Medicare rebate
• All women to have the option to stay in hospital until they are producing breastmilk and have established breastfeeding
ABC News also published comments from a spokeswoman from the King Edward Memorial Hospital, which discussed the process for determining whether a woman was clinically fit to be discharged. Unfortunately the process did not involve speaking to the mother and asking her if she felt ready to go home or not. This suggests to me that perhaps the woman’s personal feelings are not valued when assessing whether or not she is ready to go home. I believe this should be rectified immediately.
Breastfeeding is very important. Thank you for acknowledging the relationship between supporting breastfeeding and preventing post-partum depression. Consultation is a very important part of continuous improvement. I am very grateful for the opportunity to contact you on behalf of my group. I look forward to seeing positive changes.
We are very fortunate to have a very large community of breastfeeders and breastfeeding advocates. I hope that by working together, we can make a difference.
How long did you stay in hospital after giving birth? Do you think women should have the choice to stay in hospital until their mature milk is in, and until breastfeeding is well established?