In Australia, too many parents are left feeling unprepared and unsupported in their breastfeeding journey because existing breastfeeding supports are insufficient to address the challenges they experience. This increases the risk of early breastfeeding cessation and contributes to childhood obesity later in life.
cohealth coordinated a breastfeeding summit that identified the following:
- Breastfeeding information is not accessible, responsive, or culturally safe.
- Public spaces and workplaces require guidance to create supportive environments for breastfeeding.
- Families experience social pressures and stigma relating to their breastfeeding difficulties.
Following the Breastfeeding Summit, a collaborative partnership between cohealth, Maribyrnong Maternal and Child Health Services, Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA), and GenWest was established to codesign two major projects that targeted community-identified needs. cohealth’s specialised health promotion workforce (funded through health promotion) applied their research expertise, harnessed stakeholder engagement and codesign skills, and used local knowledge of resources and context to lead these projects.
Project 1 (Making Breastfeeding information culturally safe and accessible) is designed to address the first and third points identified during the Summit by increasing breastfeeding knowledge, skills and confidence of community members. It enables the delivery of culturally safe and responsive breastfeeding information and support, reducing social pressure and stigma. Thirteen bicultural workers were selected based on their understanding of cultural complexities relating to breastfeeding and who are passionate about supporting better health outcomes for local families.
The bicultural workers were supported to attend the nationally recognised and accredited Community Breastfeeding Mentoring short course by the ABA. The training provided bicultural workers with the knowledge and mentoring skills to deliver evidence-based support to breastfeeding parents and families. The specialist knowledge of ABA facilitators, the course structure and content, and design was tailored for upskilling bicultural workers contributed to the effectiveness of the short course.
The impact of the short course for bicultural workers was:
- Either strongly agreed (76.92%) or agreed (23.08%) that the training increased their knowledge of evidence-based information on breastfeeding.
- Either strongly agreed (84.62%) or agreed (15.38 per cent%) that the training increased their mentoring skills on breastfeeding.
- Either strongly agreed (76.92%) or agreed (23.08%) that the training increased their confidence in promoting breastfeeding in the community.
When asked the partcipants responded,
‘I like the respect from the trainer and peers, The resource is in a variety of different languages.’
‘So many activities. I can put my study into practice. Learn a lot from the book (course manual) and activities.’
‘Experience shared by different professionals from different backgrounds; Content delivered during the workshop was excellent.’
cohealth health promotion staff will assist the trained bicultural workers to co-design action plans and deliver local breastfeeding promotion activities in their respective communities.
Further information about Project 2 will be featured in the next edition of Prevention Victoria.