Supporting local women

Lactation services team leader Jessica Hughes. (Damjan Janevski) 350126_01

This week marks World Breastfeeding Week, celebrated every year across the world from August 1-7.

The global campaign supported by the World Health Organisation and UNICEF, aims to raise awareness about breastfeeding and its advantages.

Joan Kirner Women’s and Children’s Hospital (JKWC) in Sunshine is supporting women to breastfeed premature babies through a low-cost breast pump hire program.

Lactation services team leader Jessica Hughes oversees a team of clinical nurse consultants who are dedicated to supporting families to breastfeed.

“Patients at JKWC who give birth to babies who require support through newborn services are able to hire hospital-grade breast milk pumps at a low-cost to assist them to feed their babies,” she said.

Ms Hughes said the hospital found that many women in the community came from low socio-economic backgrounds, leading to the hospital sourcing 24 electric breast pumps for eligible families to hire.

“We had women who were delivering their babies and those babies weren’t able to breastfeed directly at the breast because they were sick, so we asked mothers to pump milk to feed their babies through a feeding tube. However, we found that many women said they couldn’t afford a breast pump, and so in order to remove that barrier we launched a low-cost breast pump hire program in conjunction with Professor Linda Sweet at Deakin University.”

This year’s theme for World Breastfeeding Week focuses on breastfeeding and work, providing a strategic opportunity to advocate for essential maternity rights that support breastfeeding.

Staff at JKWC are also supported to breastfeed their babies, provided with a refurbished lactation room featuring appropriate equipment.