When Amanda Franks had a baby at age 16 at a country hospital, an experience with a midwife put her off breastfeeding her firstborn.
- A La Trobe University study has looked at data from 7,500 women who had a baby at Bendigo Health between 2010 and 2017
- Researchers found only 4.2 per cent of teenage mothers went on to breastfeed their infants
- Overall, mothers who smoke, are obese, or are in their teenage years are less likely to initiate breastfeeding
“The midwife came in and asked if the baby had been fed yet,” Ms Franks said.
“I said ‘No’, and she got all hands-on with me and was not explaining anything to me.”
Ms Franks said the midwife then began manoeuvring her breast to get the baby to attach and feed.
“I felt like she was invading my space, I didn’t feel like this was normal — what teenage mother would?
“It kind of set me back with being comfortable about breastfeeding.”
The Bendigo woman said she felt so uncomfortable from the experience that she opted to bottle-feed her baby.
“For someone who is so young and does not know what they are doing, it is very intimidating,” Ms Franks said.
That was in 2002 and by 2016, when Ms Franks had her last baby, she said little had changed — she felt more confident to breastfeed, but it was not due to the help of hospital staff.
“It was more educating myself,” she said.
“It was just because I was a bit more experienced in what I was doing with a baby.”
Teen mothers less likely to breastfeed
Ms Franks’s experience is reflected in a new La Trobe University study that finds teenage mothers are the least likely to initiate breastfeeding.
Melanie Bish, head of nursing and midwifery at La Trobe Rural Health School, analysed data from 7,500 women who had a baby at Bendigo Health between 2010 and 2017.
She discovered that overall, mothers who smoked, were obese or in their teenage years were less likely to initiate breastfeeding.
“We had 76.8 per cent of women between 20 and 34 who were breastfeeding, which was fantastic,” Dr Bish said.
Calls for better breastfeeding education
Dr Bish said the research showed how urgently healthcare providers needed to change their approach to educating women about breastfeeding.
She said she wanted to see breastfeeding initiation to be given the same amount of education as women received when they were preparing for birth and motherhood.
“We’ve got to be strong advocates for women in vulnerable populations, who do have several risks, to feel confident to access healthcare services during pregnancy and that breastfeeding initiation is part of that discussion,” Dr Bish said.
‘Breastfeeding gets missed’
The Australian Breastfeeding Association is backing the calls for pregnant women to be better educated about breastfeeding initiation.
The association’s Victorian branch president Jennifer Hurrell wants to see an overhaul of how it is treated.
She said other than lactation consultations there was not a medical specialty that focused on breastfeeding.
“I think breastfeeding gets missed,” Ms Hurrell said.
“There isn’t an area of medicine which covers breastfeeding, despite it being a key thing which happens to a women’s body.”
Ms Hurrell said research showed how much breastfeeding impacted the development of a human infant.
She said the benefits of breastfeeding included the reduced risks of neonatal mortality, gastrointestinal, respiratory and ear infections.
“Interestingly, research has shown when a mother is breastfeeding, the blood flow to her breasts is higher than it is to her brain,” Ms Hurrell said.
“Because of the effort the body puts into making milk, there is greater blood flow.
Thanks for checking this news article involving Victoria and Australian news published as “Midwifery researchers find teenage, obese and smoking mothers are less likely to breastfeed”. This news release was posted by MyLocalPages as part of our local news services.
#Midwifery #researchers #find #teenage #obese #smoking #mothers #breastfeed