Giving tips on breast practices

Jodi Schellenberg
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Dr. Jack Newman gave a presentation on breast practices at the Travelodge Hotel in Prince Albert on Friday.

He is teaching people around the world breast practices and made a stop in Prince Albert along his way.

Healthcare professionals and mothers gathered at the Travelodge Hotel in Prince Albert to learn about Breast Practices from Dr. Jack Newman, a Canadian expert on breastfeeding.

“We like to do breastfeeding education every year and we had some seed money donated to us from Improving Life for Children (a non-profit organization),” said Maryanne King, a registered nurse from the Prince Albert Parkland Health Region (PAPHR), an International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners member. “Part of improving health is to improve our breastfeeding rates. By educating people, so we are all giving the same message and are all doing the same thing, it helps to provide moms good support for breastfeeding.”

Newman’s presentation was focused on the basics of breastfeeding and dealt with a lot of myths and controversies surrounding it.

“The first thing I did this morning was to show a bunch of videos that show how a baby gets milk from the breast, how to help a baby get more milk from the breast, how to work with babies,” Newman said. “The last talk of the day was about controversy in breastfeeding, which really shouldn’t be controversies if the health professionals and even the mothers really understood how breastfeeding works.”

Breastfeeding is important for both mothers and babies, Newman said.

“There are a lot of risks to not breastfeeding, both for the baby and mother,” Newman said.

Women who do not breastfeed are more likely to get breast or ovarian cancer, he said. Babies are healthier, less likely to get infections of diabetes later, less likely to be overweight and are less likely to get some types of cancer.

Not only does it have benefits to their physical health, Newman said that it is also good for developing a relationship between the mother and child.

“Breastfeeding is an intimate relationship between a mother and a child who usually love each other,” Newman said. “It is a physical intimate relationship, which is probably one of the reasons so many people are put out by it because it is very beautiful but it also frightens many people.”

One of the topics Newman discussed during his presentation was the best practices of breastfeeding.

“The best practices published by nursing committees or even governments are not always the best practices,” Newman said. “The best practices are really what the nurses and doctors need to know about how to help a mother put a baby to the breast so it doesn’t hurt and how to help a mother put a baby to the breast so it gets to most milk possible.”

He said there are many contributing factors to why a mother has trouble breastfeeding when they shouldn’t.

“Mothers always managed to breast feed, the vast majority of them without difficulties but now we see all these mothers who are having difficulties,” Newman said. “I worked in Africa and the mothers there were starving, were sick a lot of the time and still managed to produce milk. Why in North America, where we have well nourished women who are in good health usually, don’t seem to be able to get enough milk and have sore nipples so they stop breastfeeding?”

Many things health-care professionals do during labour will interfere with breastfeeding, Newman explained.

“A lot of mothers are given intravenous fluids in large amounts during the labour and birth and that often results in the mothers having difficulty with breastfeeding because their breasts are swollen with fluid and the baby can’t take the breast properly,” Newman used as an example.

Many doctors in North America either don’t understand breastfeeding or are not interested, Newman said.

“At this session, there was one resident doctor, not a single physician or paediatrician was there,” Newman said. “They don’t care, they don’t want to hear about it. They say formula is the best or if they don’t say it is the best they will say the baby is not getting enough milk, here’s some formula.”

He said the attitude many physicians have is unfortunate because many of the problems they are seeing could be fixed with a little knowledge of breastfeeding.

“There are a lot of practices that are poor that might be considered best practices -- like babies should be fed every three hours,” Newman said. “That is nonsense. Babies should be fed well. If they feed well, if they get milk from the breast, then they will let the mother’s know when they are ready to eat again.”

Another myth he said was not true is babies should feed at least eight to 10 times a day.

“They should feed well and if that means feeding well six times a day, that is fine,” Newman said. “Feeding 12 times a day poorly is not fine.”

Since there are so many benefits to breastfeeding, Newman likes to education the public about the importance.

“I think that the first thing is to educate health professions, but also mothers, fathers and grandparents about the importance of breastfeeding so they don’t say, ‘Well you’ve got some sore nipples, just give the baby formula it’s fine’,” Newman said. “That is not the way it should be. The grandparents should be supporting the parents and the father should be supporting the mother and the physicians and health professionals should also be there supporting the mother.”

It was a lot of information for those at the presentation to take in, but most were impressed with Newman’s knowledge.

“He has helped so many moms and babies and is well respected in the breastfeeding world,” King said. “He is a good speaker and very knowledgeable man.”

Organizations: Prince Albert Parkland Health Region, Travelodge Hotel, Improving Life for Children International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners

Geographic location: North America, Africa

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