The National Breastfeeding Helpline Evaluation report

3.3 Awareness among health professionals of breastfeeding benefits and support services

Page last updated: 13 February 2013

Is there improved knowledge and understanding of breastfeeding and the role of the Breastfeeding Helpline?

The ABA has a role in increasing the awareness of health professionals about the benefits and practice of breastfeeding and about the supports available for mothers including the National Breastfeeding Helpline.

ABA support for health professionals

As indicated in 0, the ABA offers a wide range of information and training including activities that are accessible to and promoted among health professionals. Stakeholder feedback shows a familiarity with ABA activities especially conferences that are well regarded. Professional associations promote ABA training events and in some instances there is support for members to attend.

ABA is represented on several statewide committees involved in developing strategic responses to improved rates and duration of breastfeeding. In this capacity, ABA is well placed to influence the understanding of breastfeeding practice and engage with key sector stakeholders.

There is increasing jurisdictional interest in securing breastfeeding training for health professionals, in part driven by interest in BFHI accreditation of health services and hospitals. In some instances, jurisdictions are considering development of in-house training capacity. The training available from the ABA was considered by some jurisdictions to be too costly and not in a suitable format.

Health professionals understanding of the Breastfeeding Helpline role

Stakeholder feedback suggests that there is clarity about the role of the Breastfeeding Helpline in the continuum of support services for mothers and their families. The Breastfeeding Helpline was commonly described as offering non clinical, peer support rather than professional advice. However, details of the operation of the Breastfeeding Helpline are less well known including the use of interpreter services and teletypewriter.

There was also a view that the ABA could have a narrower appeal because of its image as committed advocates of breastfeeding and appealing to white, middle class women.

Summary

ABA’s education and training activities appear to be well known among health professionals. It is likely that jurisdictions will have an increasing role in providing breastfeeding education to its workforce especially where there is interest in hospital accreditation under the BFHI.

Jurisdictions and health professional associations understand that the Breastfeeding Helpline offers non clinical, peer support but there is a paucity of familiarity with the detail of the Breastfeeding Helpline’s operation.