New mum dilemma: Breast or bottle? Hospital midwives support the choice

Fed and happy: Baby Ned Sheppard with Dad Matt and Mum Melanie from Coonamble, just 15 hrs old with Operations Manager Maternity Ward Margo Mackenzie and Midwife Susan Cahill.
Fed and happy: Baby Ned Sheppard with Dad Matt and Mum Melanie from Coonamble, just 15 hrs old with Operations Manager Maternity Ward Margo Mackenzie and Midwife Susan Cahill.

Dubbo Hospital Maternity Unit operations manager Margo Mackenzie said all new mothers are treated with love and respect by staff regardless of whether or not they can breastfeed their baby.

Ms Mackenzie was responding to social media comments that claim Dubbo maternity ward midwives pressured new mothers to breastfeed their new arrivals.

“It is ultimately the woman's choice to breastfeed her baby or not,” she said.

“We are here to support the new mum in whatever decision she chooses.

“We understand that some women can’t breastfeed and we respect whatever choice is made.”

But Daily Liberal reader Ash Smith said she felt midwives did not treat her well when she had her baby in Dubbo last November.

“I felt embarrassed and ashamed the entire time I was there,” she said.

“The midwife didn't show me how to feed and made me feel stupid when I couldn't.”

New mother Kristen Maree said as long as a baby is fed it should not matter if it is breast milk or formula.

“I felt pressured when I had my bub at Dubbo in February last year,” she said.

“I was unable (to breastfeed), and I felt like I wasn't giving my baby the best because of how the midwives were. 

“Everyone knows how important breastfeeding is but that doesn't mean every woman can do it or wants to do it.

“As long as the baby is fed, it shouldn't matter.”

However, Ms Mackenzie said Dubbo Hospital midwives explored all feeding options with new mothers.

“Society puts a lot of pressure on mothers, and some put that pressure on themselves too, but we are all about empowering women to make their own choices,” she said.

“We ask the new mother what they want to do; we explore if they do desperately want to breastfeed or if they are unsure, some mothers breastfeed during their stay with us and then go home and immediately bottle feed, we want them to be confident with whatever method they choose.

“We like to give women the support and education they need, whether that is breastfeeding or bottle feeding.

“It is the mum that goes home and feeds the baby, so they have to be confident and happy in the decision and choices that they make so whatever they choose they can do quite well when they go home.

Ms Mackenzie said there is a community midwifery team that follows up with mothers when they leave the hospital.

“New mums can call on the team for up to two weeks after they leave the hospital and after that, they can call the child and family health nurses,” she said.