‘Breast is best’: formula hidden

MIDWIVES at a Sunshine Coast public hospital are trying to promote breastfeeding with strict new policies on mums using formula.

Among other measures, the maternity ward, now discourages milk-substitute literature and equipment from being “in view” unless in use. But it has hit a nerve with some mums who cannot breastfeed.

Nambour General Hospital’s push towards “breast is best” is in the hope of achieving international Baby Friendly Health Initiative accreditation next year.

The initiative is a World Health Organisation and United Nations Children’s Fund concept.

Queensland Health spokeswoman Jackie Hanson said accreditation was given only to health centres that were assessed as promoting breastfeeding as the norm.

“We (must) adhere to all 10 step of successful breastfeeding,” she said.

“We (must) also comply with the international code of marketing of breast-milk substitutes.

“This means we don’t give free samples, advertise or accept donations from formula companies.

“Formula is provided only for those babies that are unable to breastfeed.”

The initiative’s 10 steps include ensuring “skin to skin” contact immediately after birth, support after discharge and no dummies.

Only 12 other hospitals in Queensland, including Sunshine Coast Private Hospital at Buderim, are accredited.

Three assessors spent two days at Nambour interviewing staff and patients and checking that it was “mother and baby friendly”.

Curra mum Lisa Watson had two children at Nambour and one at Gympie public hospital.

A breast reduction at 15 left her unable to produce sufficient milk.

The 29-year-old started an internet support group for bottle babies after discovering there was little assistance for mums using formula.

“The new strategy is good in theory but could lead to more feeling of guilt,” she said. “Whatever your reasons for not breastfeeding, it causes unrelenting frustration.

“When you ask for help, you get directed to breastfeed but no matter how hard you try, sometimes you cannot breast feed.

“With all the pressure, you end up feeling like less of a mum.”

Mrs Watson said she knew many women who found themselves at a supermarket aisle in tears because they did not know what product to buy.

“No one can tell what teat is best, what formula brand is healthiest,” she said.

Professional lactation consultant and initiative chairwoman Bridget Roache said mums should not feel more pressure with the new policy.

“Hospitals that are accredited provide individual education sessions for women who are unable to breastfeed,” she said.

“These women often feel regret at not being able to breastfeed and support is vital.”

Ms Hanson said assessors were impressed by the standard of education that staff had achieved.


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