Help me doctor - my baby won't feed!

There is a consensus amongst health experts to recommend that women exclusively breastfeed their baby, with no other milks, food or drinks, until about six months. At about six months it is further recommended to introduce solid foods while continuing to breastfeed until 12 months or longer.1,2 Evidence shows that only 15% of Australian babies are exclusively breastfed until six months of age.3

Feeding newborns and infants can be challenging and distressing for both the women and her child. Despite a woman’s intentions, wishes, hopes and effort, breastfeeding is not always a possibility. Physiological or psycho-social factors, such as attachment, milk supply, time constraints and mums returning to work, emotional issues, pain and discomfort, allergies and intolerance, disease and infection, and medication use can all have a great influence on the feeding practices of the mother and her child.

Women may be overwhelmed with mixed (and often unreliable) information and advice that they receive from family, friends, social media and the internet. General practitioners are in a unique position to offer support and provide reliable information for women who are experiencing difficulties feeding their new babies. Early intervention and referral to support organisations can be beneficial to the wellbeing of mother and baby. 

We’ve gathered details for a range of services which are available for both health providers and women to support infant feeding.

Information and resources for GPs

Support services for women

South Eastern Sydney Local Health District services

Sydney Local Health District services

  • Community Health: Child and Family Nursing - Access local Breastfeeding Support Sessions.
  • RPA and Canterbury Hospital Lactation Consultants - Referrals from GPs are accepted for difficult cases only. Women must have delivered or be planning to deliver at either RPA Women and Babies or Canterbury Hospitals. RPA: call 9515-8422, or page via 9515 6111. Canterbury Hospital: page via 9787 0000

Other support services


1. World Health Organization statement 2011, Exclusive breastfeeding for six months best for babies everywhere, Geneva: World Health Organization. URL: Accessed 30/7/13
2. National Health and Medical Research Council 2012, Infant Feeding Guidelines,Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council Accessed 30/7/13
3. AIHW 2012. Australia's health 2012. Australia's health no. 13. Cat. no. AUS 156. Canberra: AIHW.

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