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 Breastfeeding support is inadequate, with many women receiving outdated advice.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.

Yours sincerely,

Lauren Threadgate”

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?

Join the Conversation

7 Comments

  1. I originally wanted to go home straight away, but when my daughter couldn’t latch, and then wouldn’t suck there was no way I was leaving until she could. I stayed for 5 days in the public system and had fantastic support from the midwives and lactation consultant. I went home after my first night of successful feeding without any help. It was the lactation consultants day off and she called me when she returned to make sure I really was ok and invited me back if i wanted to. I syringe fed for a few days. Formula and bottles were not mentioned once.
    EVERY mother deserves this level of care.

  2. I was lucky to have the option to sfay- but not the qualified support. First baby i stayed 2 days but still didnt have access to a LC. And second baby i went home after min hours stay and was lucky enough to receive home care pp.
    However again without Lc qualifications and although access to the bfing clinic it is very under pressure and with only 1 LC

  3. We were rushed out after each birth! I’ve had four children and my first was by far the worst; I was 21 years old, no idea what I was doing, an emotional wreck and my daughter wouldn’t latch on. I had no hope of coping, now that I look back! But we were transferred from the labour room to a small shared space, then the following day moved again to a examination room until I was discharged the following day. Terrible memories but needless to say, a little bit of assistance wouldn’t have gone astray, especially after the fact!

  4. Breastfeeding support is crucial and women are already feeling a lack of confidence in the situation that a thorough and supportive network is vital for a woman to gain confidence and knowledge to continue breastfeeding. Women should also not feel they are made to leave the hospital. Many women I know have felt very unsure when they have been made to leave several hours after having a baby.

  5. I was a NICU nurse in the Philippines so I basically taught myself how to breastfeed my son based on what I learned from work.

    Our hospitals in Manila are strict and they don’t allow formula in the hospital. Some families would sneak in formula when the mum hasn’t had milk letdown. Not all mums are taught breastfeeding either. I hope things would improve for us breastfeeding mums.

    And I thoroughly support your petition for improved breastfeeding teachings and support for mums before they are discharged from the hospital here in Australia. All the best love! xx

    Jacq
    jacqwritesworld.com

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