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It’s natural, it’s normal, it’s as old as human life – and yet breastfeeding can be one of the most difficult things new mums conquer. And recent research shows breastfeeding is increasingly going digital, with many mums turning to online tools and apps in favour of the first-hand advice of their own mothers. In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week, we get to the heart of the matter.

It’s a longstanding hot-spot of motherhood – to breastfeed or not. And regardless of where you stand on the issue, there is no doubt that, where possible for mum and bub, breast is best. But does that make it instinctive and easy? Hell no! Recent research by Medela Australia reveals a host of pressures new mums feel to breastfeed, with the greatest pressure coming from themselves – not their partner, the media, society or celebrity influence.

In the study of over 4000 survey participants, 9 in 10 mums indicated they experienced breastfeeding challenges. Milk levels and sore nipples were the most common concerns, and 52 per cent of women felt pressure to continue breastfeeding, citing the health benefits for mum and bub as the strongest reason to continue (approximately 90 per cent of respondents breastfed their baby for this reason).

It’s no secret that mums run the gamut of challenges in establishing breastfeeding with a new bub – am I producing enough milk? Is bub gaining enough? How do I juggle the whole breastfeeding in public situation? How do I prevent mastitis / engorgement? Am I doing it right? How long should I feed for? What about when my angel gets teeth?!

Interestingly, in the face of this confusion, pressure and desire for support, many mums bypassed their own mothers in the hunt for information and advice, preferring to seek support online though digital tools and apps.  Midwives and doctors provide obvious sources of support, but Medela’s research showed the majority of mums preferred the 24/7 convenience of online info and apps (and when you’re up at 3am pacing the floors with an unsettled bub, or wondering whether to dream-feed to get that extra hour of sleep at sunrise, the internet can offer a welcome support group!).

Over 70 per cent of respondents subscribe to an online support network, website, forum or app that provides parenting information. And of these, 98 per cent found these resources important in providing new mums with support and information. The MyMedela app (free from the App Store), by Medela Australia provides practical advice, tips and tricks from experts on pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. Post-birth, the app offers an efficient tracking tool to monitor bub’s progress and development, logging a record of height, weight, sleep, nappy changes etc.

Jarrod Percy, Managing Director of Medela Australia explains, “Breastfeeding Awareness Week is an opportunity to educate the wider community about the challenges mums face and the pressure they put on themselves to give their child the best start in life, and to remind mums that they are not alone in their journey.

“Fortunately, this generation of mums have access to personalised, instantly available resources, tools and communities online designed to inform and empower along the way.”

 

August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week, a global initiative supported by UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Courtney Robinson

Courtney Robinson  

Courtney Robinson is a Gold Coast mum, passionate foodie, whole foods recipe creator and personal trainer certified in holistic digestive health and nutrition. Follow @athletist_ or visit athletist.com.au for recipes, workout tips and training hacks.