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Breastfeeding Support and Training. Why?

As I wrote in my last blog: I sometimes wonder if there is any point in my doing this lactation work: teaching the mothers, the staff and helping the breastfeeding mothers. Apart from seeing the mothers on the ward, I do a lot of teaching in different hospitals, both in the city as well as in the countryside. And sometimes you wonder if it actually makes a difference. What’s the point of me teaching if people hear it and then continue to do things the way they have always done it? This week I met a lady who had attended my antenatal classes. When my co-worker for the lactation work in the city of Taiyuan mentioned her, I remembered her. She was very faithful in attending all the classes, made notes, asked questions. She was not a pregnant woman. No, she is a tswee roe sjir催乳师. They are very popular in China and are called when moms are facing breastfeeding problems. They have very little training and have basically learned how to massage the breasts. Of course, massaging the breasts can be very beneficial at times, but it can’t solve everything. I have heard some of these 催乳师 give mothers incorrect information. Well, this time a 催乳师 attended my training. Weeks later I met her again and was very surprised that she had continued to study my website, read all my hand-outs about breastfeeding and actually applies it in her work. She tells me that it has made a huge difference. Where most 催乳师 come and go within an hour when helping a mom with breastfeeding problems, she now spends almost two hours to really try and help the mother, to listen to her story, to not just come in and massage the breast, but also look at how the baby is latched to the breast, to look at the whole picture: mom and baby together and how they interact. She tells me how she had a mother whose baby just wouldn’t latch. They had started out bottle-feeding (like most Chinese do) and just hadn’t succeeded in switching to breastfeeding. She suggested to put the baby skin-to-skin onto mother’s chest (something she had learned during my classes). And as she put the baby skin-to-skin near mom’s breast, this baby naturally started looking for the breast and after some time latched on beautifully! Mom was so excited and so pleased. She told me more stories like this, how she had applied things she learned in my classes and on my website in her work and what a huge difference it made. Of course, she encounters the same problems I see in my work: resistance from the family, who are eager to give the baby a bottle, advice from doctors in the hospital to give the baby formula (when often there is no need for it and without even looking at how the baby is feeding at the breast). Yes, we still have a long ways to go, but it was so good to hear that there is a point in teaching these classes.

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