My name is Karen. I have worked as a Midwife for almost 30 years.
About 7 years ago I decided to take a position as a Community Midwife in Aboriginal health. My AMIHS (Aboriginal Maternal Infant Health Service) position allows me to see women in the antenatal period and up until 6 weeks post-partum. A job which is both challenging and extremely rewarding.
I work alongside an Aboriginal Health Practioner. Together we support all pregnant Aboriginal Women, as well as those Non Indigenous women having Aboriginal babies.
What we quickly realised in our community, was that breast feeding rates amongst our clients were extremely low.
Some of the reasons for not breast feeding identified were
- “My mum, sister, aunty didn’t breast feed so why should I”
- I won’t have enough milk.
- Its “shame”
Aboriginal Women Giving Breast-feeding a go…
Many women were not aware of the benefits of breast feeding for themselves and their babies. It has been a challenge for women to even consider the option in many cases.
Over time, and building trust and rapport with women, our service grew and we began to find a few interested Mums who were prepared to “give it a go”.
Those interested women were supported all throughout their pregnancy. My Aboriginal Colleague who had completed the Diploma in breast feeding management through ABA is able to support and educate clients In a Culturally safe manner.
Over the past twelve –eighteen months we have seen a significant increase in the breast feeding rate for the first six weeks.
With our flexible clinic and home visits, we are able to explain and demonstrate the benefits of expressing milk in the antenatal period. We are able to give important information about breast feeding and answer any questions to women who may be the first in their family to feed and are unable to get advice from family members.
With our follow up home visits in the community, we are able to visit women daily to offer encouragement and support.
Through different apps and online information, women have felt supported in those difficult first few weeks.
Through our programme, we run joint Mums and bubs group with the local AMS where we meet in a friendly atmosphere and enjoy doing craft, cooking a meal and informally chatting about child health and feeding. We have found that during Covid and the lock downs, women seem to have more time and be more responsive to the idea of taking the time to breast feed.
Whilst we still have some women who choose to breast feed, I feel hopeful that over time with our continuity of care model with myself and Jess, (Aboriginal Health Practioner) we are able to continue, to support, educate and advise all women who think they might “give it a go