AIMS Ireland were delighted to be invited to celebrate National Breastfeeding week with Sabina Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin on Friday 4th October 2019. AIMS Ireland Chairperson, Krysia Lynch was accompanied by a breastfeeding member of our Support Team Elaine McDosset and five breastfeeding mothers whom AIMS Ireland have supported during the past year.
AIMS works with mothers who have had wonderful maternity care experiences, but also difficult birth experiences. We run many peer support groups to help mothers on their way after a difficult start and encourage them to meet their breastfeeding goals. So, the mothers who came with us this year would have either had Obstetric Sphincter Injuries or Birth Trauma (two of our support groups). The invites they received were part of their healing journey and they were so absolutely thrilled to have attended.
As part of the event Dr. Krysia Lynch was one of several speakers who addressed the audience. Her address was focused on the impact that birthing practices can have on breastfeeding and a full transcript of the speech is given below.
Dr. Krysia Lynch AIMS Ireland addresses Áras an Uachtaráin on 4th October 2019
The Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services Ireland are delighted to be asked to the Aras again by Sabina to celebrate National Breastfeeding Week. Thank you so much Sabina for your kind and thoughtful invitation.
The Association for Improvements in the Maternity Systems Ireland is the largest and most influential service user group in Maternity Services in Ireland.
Our primary focus is to ensure that mothers using our maternity services come out whole having negotiated their own personal journey to birth, and having been at the centre of their care where they made their own decisions and were fully supported in their choices. This is what leaves a new mother empowered, positive and ready to face the world having gone through the rite of passage of childbirth and having come out healthy and well on the other side!
Our hope is that every mother has received the best care possible during the birth of her baby and the best care possible to support her in breastfeeding afterwards
Research now shows us that how a pregnant person gave birth will have a fundamental impact on how long and even whether she breastfeeds at all.
We tend to forget this.
We focus on antenatal care, or whether a mother has attended a breastfeeding support class or whether a mother has a network of support around her, or whether she was determined enough or whether she got the right information or whether her baby had a Tongue Tie or not. Yes, all those things are vital, but actually how a mother gives birth will play a huge part in her breastfeeding journey, sometimes without her even realising it.
How a mother gives birth, who supported her, where she gives birth, whether she made her own choices, whether her birth was full of routine interventions, whether she was induced or had a c birth, whether her birth was assisted and whether she received medication and drugs during the process can all affect her baby’s capacity to breastfeed and a mother’s own desire to breastfeed.
Mothers are rarely told this.
When an anaesthetist offers a mother a laminated list of the possible side effects of an epidural, a sleepy baby slow to feed does not feature, neither does delayed lactation, shorter duration of feeds, less milk, less cuing, less sucking and less effective feeding. Why not? How can mothers make an informed choice without this type of information?
Approximately 7 out of 10 first time mothers will take an epidural in Ireland.
When mothers are offered or in some cases given syntocinin to speed up or induce their labours are they told that it will inhibit natural oxytocin release so vital for bonding? No. Are they told that it is less likely that their baby will suckle in the first hour after birth even if it is put skin to skin? No. Yet the research shows this to be a side effect of its use.
6 out of 10 first time mothers will receive syntocinin during their labour or induction in Ireland.
Episiotomies, assisted deliveries and c births all have their effects too, as does routine suctioning of babies, popping babies on a towel (not on the mothers chest for skin to skin), and of course separating babies from their mothers.
45% of first time mothers will have a c birth in Ireland.
If we are going to increase our breastfeeding rates on discharge we have to look to how we are supporting women in birth and directly afterwards. We cant divorce breastfeeding from the way we give birth. We need to understand that this is a continuum. A physical, emotional, mental and dare I say it spiritual continuum.
We need less interventionist births for low risk women, and where interventions are necessary during birth we need them to carry a health warning for breastfeeding. Finally,we need much more breastfeeding support postnatally for mothers who needed interventions during their birth.
The care a woman receives in the postpartum fortifies her as a new mother. For mothers wanting to breastfeed the care most often remembered is the consistent presence of someone who you feel will support you no matter what in breastfeeding this baby. This is what every new mother needs and deserves, and we should do everything we can to ensure that all new mothers get it.
We should never forget that the majority of mothers in Ireland who do not end up breastfeeding WANTED to breastfeed
Our new maternity experience survey is taking place right now; women will tell their stories; their lived experiences. It is vital that we listen and learn more about how to better support all new mothers who want to breastfeed especially if they have had medicalised births.
Breastfeeding is a gift that benefits not just babies but a mother and mothering too, not just for a day or a week or a month but for a lifetime. In today’s modern world breastfeeding connects us to our ancestors and inspires us to create the healthy nation of tomorrow. Breastfeeding leaves no carbon footprint and is part of our sustainable future. Breastfeeding connects all new mothers from all nationalities races and creeds. Breastfeeding brings us face to face with our humanity.
All mothers and their babies deserve that gift and it’s up to us to ensure that they get it. Thank you.
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