Episode 7 - Breastfeeding & COVID19...What You Need To Know
In this episode we interview Amberly Harris, Midwife and Lactation Consultant, on the latest research around breastfeeding and COVID19.
Episode 7 Amberley Harris
[00:00:00] Welcome to the Mama Matters podcast! Whether you're expecting you've recently given birth, or you are just starting along your fertility journey, it's time to get down to the nitty gritty and sort fact from fiction. I'm your host, Rosie Dumbrell. Physiotherapist and pregnancy expert. Mama Matter aims to provide an easily digestible, up to date and evidence based approach to pregnancy, birth and motherhood with a side dose of humour along the way, interviews from the industry's leading experts and experience of my own adventures as a mother to three gorgeous boys under four. I want to share the stuff that helps to grow confidence throughout motherhood. Mama Matters is a podcast by Lenny Rose Active.
[00:00:37] this is what you can expect to hear in upcoming episodes; “if the mother finds out she's got COVID19 - what's important is just to take some measures to protect her baby. And so there's things like wearing a mask during a breastfeed, obviously really good hand hygiene. So doing the 20 seconds of a good soapy hand wash, you know, very regularly, obviously, before mothers pick up their baby and just being really conscious of cough etiquette.
[00:01:05] Today we are chatting with the beautiful Amberley Harris of Maternal Instincts by Amberley. She is a midwife and lactation consultant and proud mum of two beautiful children and is extremely passionate about supporting women through the journey of breastfeeding and supporting them to be successful in their breastfeeding journey.
[00:01:27] And she has a really unique offering in that a lot of her service provision happens virtually. So she works with women all over the world and is also currently in the process of creating a documentary, collating information about breastfeeding across the globe and working to really change the stats around breastfeeding, which are surprisingly low for the sort of longer term breastfeeding.
[00:01:55] So without further ado, I introduce Amberley; and obviously there will be a Flavour of COVID19 here as well to continue with our mini series and help bring confidence to women wanting to breastfeed through this really interesting time that we're living in. Due to the nature of our interviews being done remotely at the moment, there is a tiny bit of background noise in this upcoming episode that we do want to apologize for.
[00:02:24] But rest assured, quality is of the utmost importance to us and we will ensure that your years are well looked after along the way.
[00:02:36] Thanks so much, Amberley, for joining us on this show. You and I had a relationship for a little while now and I just loved watching how passionate you are about helping women through the breastfeeding journey. And yeah, I just would love to just understand a bit more about just why you're so passionate about breastfeeding education. Yeah.
[00:02:57] Hi. Rosie, thank you for sure. Well, absolutely. I'd love to explain that. So, yeah, I'm a midwife in private practice. I've worked for eleven years now in a hospital setting. I started off and then I also had my babies and then decided that I wanted to sort of go into private practice.
[00:03:14] And I guess kind of all began to me probably supporting my sister after she'd had her first baby. She had this great birth. Everything went very smoothly. But when she went home within six hours of the birth, so much changed for her in establishing her breastfeeding. And I got exposed to that in a way that I'd never seen before. Like when I work with women in the hospital setting, you know, we help as much as we can as midwives. But there's so much change that happens on a mother's breastfeeding journey when they take their babies home.
[00:03:45] And of course, my sister chose to go home early because she was a well woman and I totally supported that. But this is even for mothers that are in the private setting and might stay for many more nights or help up to a week. And then they take their baby home. And so much with their breastfeeding happens. And I just saw the value of continued breastfeeding support in the first six weeks because statistically, yeah, our stats show that mothers are great - Australian mothers are amazingly motivated to initiate breastfeeding. About 96 percent of Australian mothers will commence breastfeeding. But ask stats drop really quickly in the first couple of months. And if you look closely at the statistics, a lot of it happens in the first six weeks. So me, it was such an easy decision to just know that I could make a much better impact on a mother's breastfeeding journey if I went into private practice and I help them at home. And so that's where my business was born.
[00:04:36] Yes. Since then, you have started an amazing movement called 6 6 2, and that has come more to the forefront with this pandemic and restrictions around support. Can you tell us a little bit about 6 6 2 and then we'll go into the COVID19 piece.
[00:04:52] Yeah, sure. So my 6 6 2 movement is largely based around the World Health Organisation guidelines. So my hope and my aspiration is to create content and have packages and appointments that support women establishing their breastfeeding over the first six weeks.
[00:05:08] So that's the first six. And then the rest of the movement is based around those guidelines. So if mothers can get to the first six weeks, they're likely to go on and exclusively breastfeed for the first six months and continue complementary feeding. So breast milk and introducing solids up until 2. So that's my 6 6 2 mothers follow the World Health Organization guidelines by following my 662 movement.
[00:05:33] Yeah, you know, just on their own accord. But I also have a membership that I open the doors for. I've just recently launched it. So I've got this amazing group of mothers in a private community that are following these guidelines and being supported on this 6, 6, 2 journey to achieve those goals.
[00:05:48] So there is obviously, you know, at the moment, a lot of trepidation. And I just I cannot imagine what it would be like to either be pregnant or having just given birth in this very, I guess, unprecedented time that we're living in. And yet my heart really goes out to all the expecting and new mums. But, you know, luckily, there are some amazing people such as yourself out there that have great resources, but also amazing knowledge that we can pull from. And, you know, I couldn't think of a better person to ask about. What's the current state of what do we know about breastfeeding and COVID19?
[00:06:19] Yeah, great question. And I agree. My heart really aches for the mothers having babies in 2020. I can't even imagine how overwhelming it is. And yet it couldn't be more motivated to support those mothers on their journey during this time. So I think the main thing to remember is, I mean, it is still considered, COVID19, is still considered a new disease and we are still learning how it's being transmitted around the world. But what we at least know from the small studies that have been done. The World Health Organization released some studies that were available from China and from the mothers that were exposed to COVID19 that were breastfeeding. They found that there was no cases of COVID19 being detected in breast milk. So they did come back to say it doesn't mean that it cannot be transmitted in breast milk, but to date, there hasn't been any reported cases of it, which is great. It's a very reassuring piece of information.
[00:07:14] So I guess that's one thing to remember. The other side of that to remember as well is that originally the Centre for Disease Control, when this very first began, came out and said that mothers that have been a known case of coronavirus were breastfeeding should separate from their baby. That was their original recommendation, which was pretty alarming to think of. Thankfully, they have since come back and changed that recommendation and explain that, and which is very wise, just because of the amazing intelligence that is breast milk, it creates antibodies specific to pathogens in a mother and their babies’ environment. So that that's really important, that continue separating mothers and babies is really not good practice. So I'm very happy that they came back and changed that recommendation. And what they've since said instead is if the mother finds out she's got coronavirus what's important is just to take some measures to protect her baby.
[00:08:12] And so did things like wearing a mask during a breastfeed, obviously really good hand hygiene. So doing the 20 seconds of good soapy hand wash, you know, very regularly, obviously, before mums pick up their baby and just being really conscious of cough etiquette, coughing in your elbow, all that sort of thing, which I'm sure mothers do anyway. But that is what they've now come back and said that is the best approach and breastfeeding was really important.
[00:08:38] Keep breastfeeding your baby, you are right to do that. Yeah, we did actually have a chat earlier interviews in this mini series with Dr. Guy Skinner who's a Melbourne based Obstetrician. And he was very much saying that even though some in America, some of these separation has been happening was happening, he was very much saying that this isn't the practice in Australia. And, you know, we're very much pro keeping mother and baby together.
[00:09:05] And even if a newborn does contract COVID19, they don't seem to be having anywhere near the sort of respiratory or severity of symptoms that perhaps they might have expected or that happened an elderly and other at risk populations.
[00:09:18] So, you know, that's really reassuring. Yeah, absolutely. OK.
[00:09:22] And so now that we know that regardless of viral status of yourself and or your newborn, breastfeeding is absolutely still encouraged and recommended, can you give us your top tips around successful breastfeeding ? Yeah, you can give us your top three ?
[00:09:42] Oh, so it's hard when I only get to choose three. So I think the first one has to be education. I just think there's so much that we can learn about breastfeeding and the time really is in pregnancy.
[00:09:54] I think I can tell when a mother when she's first learning how to breastfeed and she's done some breastfeeding education before she's had a baby, because they're just one step, a step ahead. They're not learning all of these, you know, sit here. You know, your baby's gonna do this big wide open mouth, you know, put your arm here, support your baby. They're not learning any of that for the first time. They've learnt all of that. And so then they are like ready to learn. And they've got this understanding. So I think it's essential to do some breastfeeding education in pregnancy. And the good news is, is that you don't have to go to a class, because I understand, you know, a lot of antenatal classes have been cancelled. But I actually think that there's so many great resources that exist for mothers that you can access from your phone or your iPad and you can watch in the comfort of your own home. You don't have to go to classes to get really good evidence based information for breastfeeding.
[00:10:49] So that would be my first thing. Find great resources before you have your baby. The second thing would be support. And that's not just professional support, but I'll come back to that. So I want to talk now more about the personal support. So the number one factor in successful breastfeeding is actually bought and brought down to a supportive partner. So if your partner really believes in the process and really is passionate about wanting your breastfeeding to work out for you and your baby and your whole family, they're going to be a great person to be championing you from the sidelines instead of, you know, coming in and saying all, you know. Is it working? Maybe we should do it, do this. Like, how can I help. If they're just saying, no, no, like I'm with you, we can do this. And if you're invested in it together, that is a huge thing. So partners' support is one. And then, of course, the other side of that is, is professional support.
[00:11:41] So having that access to someone that you can call on, whether there might not be an option to exist for an in-person appointment. But there are a lot of digital appointments that you could get support with. I do a lot of things for mothers all over Australia and internationally. And so it's, that ongoing source of support. And I also offer a messaging support so I can have mother's message me anytime and I can shoot them back and reassure them with what's happening with their breastfeeding. And then I guess the third point I'm gonna go with is backing yourself. You know, like mindset is everything. And I know that it's hard to feel confident about breastfeeding when maybe you've only been exposed to stories with family or friends or in your social circle when it hasn't worked out. And I get that that's really overwhelming when you go into a journey and think, well, oh, I've heard from others is breastfeeding is really hard. It's actually even harder than giving birth.
[00:12:34] So I get that, and it is it is hard. It's a tricky thing to get going, but we are designed to do this. We are very capable of learning how to breastfeed. A very small percentage of women in the world are unable to breastfeed. So they sort of estimate that less than 3 percent of mothers, for example, unable to produce enough milk for their baby. And so it's a very small percentage. So I think that's what's important to remember. And you're going to feel better about backing yourself if you've done those first two things. If you've educated yourself and you've got good support around you, you're going to feel so much better going into your breastfeeding journey.
[00:13:11] That's amazing. Yeah, so true. I think it's very much like that. A lot of that pregnancy journey and the sort of postpartum journey as well. It's a lot of education and knowledge is really confidence and self-empowerment. So, yes, it's great to hear that that's your philosophy.
[00:13:30] You actually have some amazing resources that women can access online given now isn’t the time to be out and about. So can you tell us a little bit about how you can access breastfeeding support with you online? Yeah, thanks for sure. Yeah.
[00:13:48] So I have a video series that I've created which has four videos in the bundle. So there's one on antenatal information, one on the birth in relation to your breastfeeding. One only on the breast crawl, which is that first breast feed and that crawl that a baby does to the breast itself. And then the last video is on the post-natal period on positioning and attachment. So these four videos have really been carefully curated to work out. I mean, there's a lot of information in the world about breastfeeding and you could Google and probably access loads, but you know what part is relevant? So this content has been really carefully put together to cover.
[00:14:26] What I really feel in my experience is the essential things that mothers need to learn before they have their baby. And my videos. Normally $99 on my website. But for all your listeners, Rosie, I'm going to give you a coupon code so you can get $20 off. So that'll bring it down to seventy nine. And they just have to make sure they purchase using the link. And then they'll be out to get that $20 discount. And it's just great content like mainly the things that I like to covering it. The antenatal video has got a how to learn how to hand express your colostrum in pregnancy. So that's a really important thing to be able to learn how you boobs are working to get that confidence in your body and to stimulate your colostrum to start flowing. It teaches you how to store it all safely. The birth content is about things that could happen in your birth that is going to impact your breastfeeding and how that's going to take place, because it's really important to know if you know, you need to have a c section, for example. Well, OK.
[00:15:24] What can I do to help my breastfeeding journey? What's important with my skin to skin? Why is this going to help set me up for success? And then the breast crawl is essential. And unfortunately, not all hospitals set women up to be able to allow this to unfold organically. Often this is really sped up. And as mammals, the breast crawl, that first breastfeed, it actually puts an imprint in the baby's mind as to how they're supposed to breastfeed. And so while it doesn't mean that if it doesn't go well, it's beyond repair. But what it does mean is if you can let it happen. And this video was amazing. And it shows a baby doing the full breast crawl and it shows you each step. And so then you know what to look for when your baby's doing it. And you can help your baby have that time that they need to do that. And then, of course, the last video is more on the mechanics, on how positioning works, what's the right way for you to see if you're having trouble.
[00:16:17] It's going to give you tips on troubleshooting and all that sort of thing. So I really feel like the content is everything that you need before you start. But then the beauty of it is that you can go back. You've got lifetime access. So if you have your baby and yeah, you're having these challenges with attachments or your nipples feeling a bit sore and damaged, you can be like, OK, what am I doing wrong? You can go back and re-watch any time you need. And you can watch it with your partner as well, which is great, because then if you've both had having that understanding, you're going to go into your journey with both of you armed with that information as a collective.
[00:16:48] That's amazing. Yeah. I just think having that access to the information, I have to say, like my breastfeeding journey was different with all three of my sons and I definitely had such an easy time first time around. But second time round things were a lot different. And both my second and third babies had done so. Yeah, I think when you sort of even for someone who's done it. Yeah, it can be different. And so it just is so important to have access to good information and support. So what an amazing resource you have collated there. And thank you so much for offering that discount. Hopefully that's really helpful for mums to be out there. So, yes. Thanks so much, Amberley for joining us. I will pop all of that information in the show notes and I'm sure I'll be harassing you again at some point soon to chat with further on the podcast. Thanks. Yes, my pleasure, thank you.
[00:17:37] When if I can help anyone. I'm on Instagram, my handle is @maternalinstinctsbyamberley, as well as on Facebook, or you can always search up my website, which is maternal-instincts.com.au
The code for the breastfeeding support package discount is BOOBS20 and you can access via this link: https://join.maternal-instincts.com.au/video-series/ to redeem a special $20 off for Mama Matters/ Lenny Rose Active ladies.
In the time that we're living in being able to access support virtually is just, you know, it's such a blessing. So if you want to reach out to her, jump on any of the links above. Please shout us out with the #mamamatters. We really want to get the resources out to as many expecting and new mums as possible. So give us a shout out, take a screenshot. If you're listening to the podcast and share it on your stories and can't wait to continue to share the journey with you.