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Pregnancy & Birth

Why are so few Aussie Mums choosing to breastfeed?

Breastfeeding is achievable for most (not all, but most) women with the right combination of education and support.

By Amberley Harris
Breastfeeding is a uniquely special experience. If you ask any mother who has successfully breastfed, I am sure they will say the bond and connection they felt with their baby through breastfeeding was an unrivalled experience.
However, for many new mothers, breastfeeding is an extremely hard skill to establish and it is not without its roadblocks.
Stats reveal that while 96 percent of Australian mothers initiate breastfeeding, by the time bub is 5 months of age just 15 percent are still exclusively breastfeeding.
What this tells us, is that for the Aussie mama, initiation is not her Achilles heel, duration is…
There are many factors which influence the success of breastfeeding; political, social and environmental are just to name a few.
For the mothers choosing not to breastfeed, I believe this is because before they have even had their baby, they have resigned to the fact breastfeeding won't work out for them.
Too many stories involving the challenges of breastfeeding have filled their head space from mothers who have gone before them and they have been conditioned into thinking breastfeeding is mission impossible.
Amberley Harris is a Mum, midwife and breastfeeding consultant. Supplied
Breastfeeding in the early days and weeks is no walk in the park, but mothers are not destined to fail either.
Just like so much in life, preparation is key. The mothers who have done some research on breastfeeding before their bubba arrives (and I'm not talking the rumour mill at the Baby Shower, I mean learning evidence-based breastfeeding content from a professional) always fare better than those who do not.
In addition to educating one's self, support is the other nonnegotiable. New mothers need to work with a professional they connect with and trust when learning to breastfeed.
The number one complaint from postnatal women these days is conflicting advice regarding breastfeeding. Nobody wants "too many cooks in the kitchen" and breastfeeding is no exception.
It is for this reason having a rapport with a dependable breastfeeding expert is something all women benefit immersing from at the beginning and throughout their breastfeeding journey.
WATCH: Check out these breastfeeding celebrities. Continues after video ...
Breastfeeding ideally should be established over the first six weeks, then done exclusively for the first six months and continue along with foods, until a child turns two years of age or beyond; which aligns with the World Health Organisation guidelines.
I believe mothers should invest the same kind of energy they do on choosing a pram or the styling of the nursery, into their breastfeeding. Preparing for breastfeeding is going to pay off in the long run because this after all is an investment in a child's long-term health.
Not only that it is investing in the health of mothers, families, communities and the entire human species.
Amberley Harris' documentary #662 plans to bring the Australian and worldwide breastfeeding problem to politicians and health officials. Supplied
The facts are that the are nutritional, immune, intellectual, emotional and social, plus maternal benefits of breastfeeding make it a worthwhile investment.
While I am not going to promote breastfeeding as this utopia, it is achievable for most (not all, but most) women with the right combination of education and support.

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