We’re all in this together: breastfeeding support for families

By Kathryn Barwick, Australian Breastfeeding Association Central Coast

My boy, only minutes old, lay skin-to-skin across my chest, his head resting on my breast. I looked at him and I knew one thing for sure. Everything had changed – and things would never go back to how they were before.

New parents are faced with a sometimes overwhelming array of decisions to make about how they will care for and raise their children. One is how they will feed their baby. For most families this includes breastfeeding (whether exclusively or not). Everyone’s parenting journey will look different but what’s one thing that all parents have in common? We all need support.

Supporting each other here on the Coast – in person and online
On the Central Coast trained volunteers from the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) offer support through informal catch-ups, either face-to-face or online, where local parents can connect with each other. We usually meet on the first three Fridays of the month. When we are again able to meet in person, these events will be held at Point Clare (first and third Fridays) and Bateau Bay (second Friday). However, currently we are catching up online. Check out our Facebook page for event details or email us. See the links at the end of article.

Our catch ups are casual and are open to everyone, no matter how they feed their baby. Partners, grandmothers, toddlers and older children are welcome to attend. We usually have a topic. Popular ones include introducing solids, weaning, the early days, and night parenting and sleep. However, we generally end up chatting about a range of breastfeeding and parenting topics. There is also usually a breastfeeding counsellor present who can talk to you one to one if you have any specific questions or concerns.

Parenting can feel overwhelming at times, even under normal circumstances. Social distancing restrictions have meant that parents have been unable to access many of the usual support services. Grandparents may not be able to visit, antenatal classes and check-ups may be cancelled or reduced, new baby services and check-ins (including new baby groups) may be closed or operating at a reduced capacity. During these difficult times, parents are encouraged to reach out to their health professionals (including using telehealth options), and also to reach out to their family, friends and community for support.

I’m having a baby. How can I find out more about breastfeeding?
The ABA launched a new online antenatal education class in May, called Breastfeeding Education Live. These 90-minute sessions focus on the basics of breastfeeding: getting your baby positioned and attached, reading your baby’s cues, how to tell if your baby is getting enough milk, and accessing support and resources. There are usually evening sessions during the week and daytime sessions on weekends. Visit: www.breastfeeding.asn.au/classes for more information.

I’m worried about COVID-19. Is it safe to breastfeed?
The latest advice from bodies such as the World Health Organization, UNICEF and Health Departments across Australia is that it is safe for mothers to breastfeed their babies, even if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19. The current research as of 12 May 2020 indicates that COVID-19 is not transmitted through breastmilk. These organisations recommend that, if you are diagnosed with COVID-19, you continue to practise good hygiene (including wearing a mask while holding and feeding your baby), wash your hands and clean surfaces regularly, and practise social distancing by staying at home.

We would love to hear from you
Our local group is here to support you! Please follow us on Facebook or check our website for more information.

Looking for breastfeeding information and support?
National Breastfeeding Helpline: 1800 686 268 (24/7)

LiveChat: 8–10 pm weeknights (Sydney time), 12-2pm selected weekdays

Central Coast local catch-ups: check our Facebook page
(www.facebook.com/ABACentralCoast) or email: abacentralcoast@gmail.com

Breast pump hire on the Central Coast: call or text 0468 347 867
(0468 34 PUMP) to speak to our volunteer Breast Pump Hire Officer

Book in for a Breastfeeding Education Live class:
www.breastfeeding.asn.au/classes

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