Help me doctor - my baby won't feed!

Consensus amongst health experts is the recommendation 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 6 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. Health professionals such as GPs, child and family nurses and lactation consultants 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 on a range of services for women to support infant feeding.

Sydney Local Health District (SLHD) services

Community Health: Child and Family Nursing 

Early Childhood Health Centres provide a free service staffed by Child and Family Health Nurses who offer support, education and information on all aspects of parenting including health home visits and breastfeeding support sessions. For appointments and phone advice please call Central Intake ph. 9562 5400.

RPAH and Canterbury Hospital Lactation Consultants

These lactation consultants provide advice for women that have delivered or planning to deliver at either RPA Women and Babies or Canterbury Hospitals.  

  • Only accepting for difficult cases: Women will require a referral from their GP
  • Any breastfeeding challenges, particularly mastitis, breast abscess, reflux, and failure to thrive.
  • Patients in the antenatal period, who have experienced breastfeeding issues in the past or have atypical breast development that is likely to impact on breastfeeding.

South Eastern Sydney Local Health District (SESLHD) Services 

Royal Hospital for Women: Breastfeeding Support Unit

This service available within first three weeks after birth. A lactation consultant from the BSU will contact mothers by phone within a few days of discharge. The BSU offers both phone counselling and appointments to support mothers through initial breastfeeding challenges. The BSU does not offer a drop-in service. All appointments are booked after consultation with the lactation consultant.

St George and Sutherland hospitals: Breastfeeding/Lactation Information and Support Service - BLISS

BLISS offers private antenatal consultations for pregnant women who are concerned about their ability to successfully breastfeed their baby, due to their surgical or medical history, or previous challenging breastfeeding experiences. Call prior to 30 weeks gestation to book an appointment. BLISS also covers in-patients who are experiencing complex feeding issues as well as outpatients in the first two weeks after birth. To enquire phone 9113 2053

Other services

Tresillian Family Care Centres

  • Specialist early parenting advice and support for parents and carers from birth to six years including:
  • Live advice 
  • Parent’s Helpline, 9787 0855 or 1800 637 357
  • Outreach and Early Intervention Home visiting, Day Stay, Residential services These services require a GP referral
  • Website

Karitane

  • Karitane provides support and services to parents with children less than five years,
  • Parent breastfeeding advice: Helpline- 1300 227 464, 7days/week
  • Resource: Feeding Tips
  • Website

Australian Breastfeeding Association 

  • The ABA offers support from trained voluntary breastfeeding counsellors. If the situation requires medical assessment and management the patient is directed to a health care professional.
  • Patients contact for breastfeeding advice: Helpline - 1800 686 268 (1800 MUM 2MUM)
  • Website

Private Practice - International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) 

  • Lactation consultants in private practice provide breastfeeding and parenting support services either in a clinic or at the patient’s home. 
  • Lactation Consultants of Australia and New Zealand maintain a directory of current IBCLCs in private practice.
  • Website

Health Direct Pregnancy Birth and Baby 

  • Questions about getting pregnant, being pregnant, or the first 12 months of parenting
  • Website

Mothersafe

  • Advice service for women and their healthcare providers concerned about drug or environmental exposures during pregnancy and lactation.
  • Clinician or patient ph. 9382 6539, or 1800 647 848 (non-metropolitan callers)
  • For face-to-face counselling, fax referral to  9382 6070
  • Website


References

1. World Health Organization statement 2011, Exclusive breastfeeding for six months best for babies everywhere, Geneva: World Health Organization. URL: www.who.int/mediacentre/news/statements/2011/breastfeeding_20110115/en/index.html Accessed 30/7/13
2. National Health and Medical Research Council 2012, Infant Feeding Guidelines,Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council URL:www.eatforhealth.gov.au Accessed 30/7/13
3. AIHW 2012. Australia's health 2012. Australia's health no. 13. Cat. no. AUS 156. Canberra: AIHW.