Guest: Rebecca Naylor
Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Guest Bio: Rebecca has worked in the health and community sector for more than 30 years. During this time she has held roles in health services, community care and government. She has been the National Director of Programs with the National Stroke Foundation, National Head of Programs for the Starlight Children’s Foundation and held senior roles within Victoria’s public health sector before taking up her role as CEO of the Australian Breastfeeding Association. Rebecca believes this can be achieved through the provision of support and information to mothers, accreditation of workplaces, participation in research and advocacy with government and education and training to health professionals. (photo credit to Vicky Leon)
Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Segment, the Australian Breastfeeding Association CEO Rebecca Naylor joins us to share background information about the ABA and other insights on their advocacy. The Association was founded as the Nursing Mothers’ Association in 1964 and changed its name to the Australian Breastfeeding Association in 2001. The Association was founded by Natalie Mary Paton. Part of their mission is to educate society and support mothers, using up-to-date research findings and the practical experiences of many women. The Australian Breastfeeding Association receives funding from the Australian Government. Rebecca is committed to ensuring that the Australian Breastfeeding Association meets its objective of improving breastfeeding rates in Australia.
Health Professional Radio – Australian Breastfeeding Association
Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio. My name is Wayne Bucklar and today joining me is Rebecca Naylor. Rebecca is the CEO of Australian Breastfeeding Association and joins us from Melbourne in Australia. Rebecca welcome to the program.
Rebecca Naylor: Thank you.
W: Now Rebecca, Australian Breastfeeding Association is one of those names that kind of says what it is you do. But can you fil us in on what the Association does and what geographic area do you service?
R: Yeah, of course. So the Australian Breastfeeding Association works with women, the community, government and health professionals to improve breastfeeding rate in Australia and to work towards a community in which breastfeeding is seen as a cultural norm. So we do that in range of ways, we run information and support services directly for women through our National Breastfeeding Helpline, as breast groups, evidence-based information resources, with health professional education both in seminars that we run once a year and also a Diploma in Breastfeeding Management and Accreditation programs to businesses, a breastfeeding friendly workplace program that assists businesses to support women to continue breastfeeding when they return to work. And then of course advocacy where we work with government to ensure that public policy progresses the aim of being a breastfeeding inclusive community. So our services to women in particular and also our health professional education is run across the country so we have group in every state and territory, talk through our telephone line, so that’s accessible for all women living everywhere, it doesn’t matter where you live. And our health professional education is run around the country, each year very slightly. But now we run seminars in many states and territories around the country, it just varies each year.
W: Now I have to admit my days of being concerned personally with breastfeeding are many, many years ago. Do the problems that used to exist 30 years ago, still exist or has the world changed?
R: I think there are many of the same issues that exist. So we know that around 96% of women initiate breastfeeding. But by 3 months, 60% of them are no longer exclusively breastfeeding. So those right, haven’t improved and so we have a very big challenge on our hand to ensure that women feel comfortable to breastfeed in public, that they understand the importance of breastfeeding, that they have the right, to support to do it. And that they have the right information to make the choices for themselves free of marketing material.
W: Yes, that last one is quite an issue isn’t it? Marketing is of course so powerful these days and so influential.
R: More and more so. And now what we’re online for example, it’s very easy to be inundated with commercials, for example for instant formula. And whilst women of course have the right to choice how they feed the baby and nobody would suggest otherwise, what we would like to see is that women are able to make those decisions based on the evidence, not based on material marketed by manufacturer.
W: Yes. And one of the things that’s affecting lots of various in health is that something’s don’t have a commercial benefit. And I guess there is no one out there saying let’s spend millions of dollar on promoting breastfeeding because we can charge it on $50 for each one of those we sell. And that’s in all sorts of various through pharmacy, and exercise and fitness and obesity and a range of health issues – a lack of that counter balance to the marketing pushes something that a lot of people have been talking about.
R: Yeah, that’s so very true. And so health professionals play a very important role in giving women evidence-based information that help make a decision free of that material based on in fact what the risks might be of not breastfeeding and the improved health benefits that come with breastfeeding. So health professionals are really key to helping with this issue.
W: And as I guess Rebecca about 95% of our audience are health professionals of one kind or another, is there a particular message for them that you’d like to get across?
R: Yes, I think the message for health professionals is that they are a very important part of the system, part of the support system in supporting women to breastfeed. So they will often the key at a really important point, should I say for instance, struggling, I don’t know whether, should I keep feeding? A lot of health professionals, so Maternal and Child Health Nurses, Midwife, GP’s and so on. Are they professional that, that woman speaking with? And so ensuring that they are up to date with the evidence around breastfeeding that they’re giving that information to women. And really making sure that women are have the support they need to make that decision well is really critical. And ABA can really help them make sure that they have that evidence. So that they’re really well-armed in ensuring that they can give that good support to women.
W: Now when we finish the interview, we’ll give the contact details on the website. But you did mention that there is a training program and accreditation?
R: That’s right, yes. So we have some, so that the health professional seminar series for 2016 begins in March. And we’re running seminars this year in Perth, Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Hobart, so all over the place. So as well as running some webinars, so they can come to our website and it’s easy to find the information about the seminars. So we’d really encourage as many health professionals out there to come along and come over the seminar face to face or register to attend online. And many if there are organizations that would be interested in becoming breastfeeding friendly, so any organization could qualify to doing that. Again you just come to our website, look for the “Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace Program” we’d really be interested to support you, to ensure you that workplaces are supportive of women returning to work and continuing to breastfeed.
W: Rebecca, one of my favorite questions in every interview is about misconceptions and I guess in every industry and pretty much everyone I’ve spoken to, there are always misconceptions that amongst customer, clients, patients. What are the misconceptions in your field that drive you nuts and keep you awake at night?
R: So I guess the thing that concerns us the most and made the most is that there is a perception amongst moms that breastfeeding isn’t necessary anymore, that we can replace it with the different form of feeding and that we can do that without consequence to the health of infants, children and women. And of course that’s in fact not the case so we know that when we don’t comply with WHO and NHMRC recommendation to exclusively breastfeed for 6 months and thereafter for at least 12 months, that puts infants at risk. And we say with increased bottle feeding rates, increased risk of gastrointestinal infection, hospitalization among infants, ear infection, SIDS, childhood obesity. And for mothers who don’t breastfeed are in to for exclusively and for that length of time, then we see increased breast cancer rates and increase of ovarian cancer. So my worry is that we’ve kind of become community that lost sight of that. And that we think that it’s just totally fine to as a community holus bolus, replace breastfeeding with instant formula and we can’t do that without understanding that there are significant consequences. And so we would love to see the community supporting women to breastfeed and really helping them do that by being supportive of them when they breastfeed in public. By making your workplace breastfeeding friendly, by ensuring that if you’re a health professional, that you’re giving them evidence-based information and referring into support services like the Breastfeeding Association so that we can see those breastfeeding rates increase.
W: Now it does sound Rebecca like that’s a misconception that we absolutely have to do something to dispel a little bit so today I hope we’ve been able to do a little bit of that with our audience. For people who want to get in touch with you, the website is www.breastfeeding.asn.au so that’s Breastfeeding Association AU. Is there a phone number people can get hold of you on?
R: That’s right. So the head office number is 03 9885 0855.
W: And because I’m always getting into trouble for not giving people enough warning to get their pencils ready, can you just give us that number again please?
R: 03 9885 0855.
W: Rebecca thank you very much for your time. I realize you’ve been busy and it’s been a pleasure having you on.
R: Thank you.
W: If you’ve missed my conversation with Rebecca Naylor the CEO the Australian Breastfeeding Association, the good news is there’s a transcript on our website. You can also hear a recording of the interview on both YouTube and SoundCloud. My name is Wayne Bucklar and you’re listening to Health Professional Radio.