Australian Doula College
1 Aug 2023
Enabling breastfeeding - making a difference for working parents
Let's take a moment to acknowledge and cherish the incredible natural process and individual journeys of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is not just a biological process; it's a beautiful bond between a mother or birthing person and their baby, filled with innumerable benefits for both.
We have been feeding our babies in this way, forever. The beauty and wonder of breastfeeding has so lovingly been been captured in art throughout time, this piece titled 'Motherhood' by Stanisław Wyspiański, from 1905.
Why are we always banging on about how great breastfeeding is? Well here's just a few reasons..
Breast milk is nature's perfectly designed food, uniquely tailored to meet the nutritional needs of infants. It contains essential vitamins, minerals, proteins, and antibodies that help strengthen the baby's immune system. Breastfeeding fosters the connection between mother and baby. The skin to skin, eye contact, and gentle cuddling during nursing create a secure and nurturing environment for the little one.
The act of nourishing a child from their own body fosters an intimate connection unlike any other. It's not about just food! Breastfeeding stimulates the release of oxytocin, which helps the uterus contract and return to its pre-pregnancy size.
Breastfeeding has been associated with a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancer, as well as a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases in mothers.
This year's theme is all about making breastfeeding at work, work. A supported breastfeeding journey is going to be unique to the individual however, there are some key things we can do to optimise the experience for mothers.
Attend breastfeeding classes during pregnancy to learn about breastfeeding and what to expect, and where to go when you need support. Knowledge is empowering and can help you feel more confident when your baby arrives.
The support of your partner, family members, and friends is crucial. They can provide encouragement, assist in practical ways, and offer emotional support during the initial days and weeks when breastfeeding might feel new, big or overwhelming.
Reach out to lactation consultants or breastfeeding support groups if you encounter challenges, need support or have questions.
Take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Get enough rest, eat well, and don't hesitate to ask for help when needed. Remember, a healthy and happy mother is the centre of a happy and healthy family.
Returning to work while breastfeeding can present several challenges for working mothers. But as workplaces, managers and colleagues there's so much that we can do to make breastfeeding at work, work.
Separation of the breastfeeding parent and their infant because of parental work is a massive contributing factor in someone's experience of and ability to breastfeed.
What can we do to make it work at work?
Longer paid parental leave.
Create supportive and flexible employment policies, location, schedules, environment and conditions for parents who want to continue breastfeeding and need or want to return to work.
This means, flexibility in tasks, schedules, hours and locations, spaces to feed or pump and places to store breastmilk if it's required.
Create workplace cultures that are educated, especially ensuring that people managers and leaders are aware of the needs of employees who are breastfeeding and be able to to be flexible and supportive to work with these team members to make return to work and ongoing plans that foster a positive working environment
Providing a conducive and supportive work environment can significantly contribute to the well-being of both the mother and the baby.
As we celebrate the wonders of breastfeeding, let's spread awareness and support for this remarkable journey and the ways in which we need to step up to enable working mothers to continue breastfeeding as long as they want.
Together, we can create a nurturing environment where mothers feel supported and babies thrive with the precious gift of breast milk.