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  • 60 Seconds with a Lactation Consultant

    Author: HealthTimes

HealthTimes speaks with Anita Moorhead, a Lactation Consultant at the Royal Women's Hospital in Melbourne. 

What is your current position and title?

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Clinical Midwife Consultant (Lactation), Royal Women’s Hospital and I am also a Trial Coordinator for a breastfeeding research trial.

For how long have you been a lactation consultant?
20 years

How did you first become interested in lactation care?


Cabrini Health
ACAS Assessor
St Vincent's Hospital

When I was working as a nurse/midwife in neonatal intensive care. I could see the challenges that the women had to breastfeed and how important the breast milk and breastfeeding was for the babies.

What was your career pathway that led you to become a lactation consultant?
Firstly, I trained as a nurse and then a midwife. I furthered my career with a graduate certificate in neonatal intensive care. I am currently enrolled as Masters of Applied Science (Research) at the Judith Lumley centre, Latrobe University.

What is the most satisfying/rewarding part of your job?
Seeing mothers gain confidence and understanding of breastfeeding and health professionals supporting and protecting breastfeeding. I also am involved with training midwives, nurses and other health professionals about breastfeeding which I find great. I have to keep up with the latest research to keep the training up to date and relevant to their scope of practice.

What do you think makes a good Lactation Consultant?
Understanding, knowledge, patience and passion to help mothers and babies.

What advice would you give to nurses, midwives or health professionals interested in becoming a Lactation Consultant?
Consider it. Breastfeeding crosses many disciplines such as paediatrics, midwifery, nursing, public health, medicine. Speak with a lactation consultant – they will describe the diversity of the role.

What are the most common breastfeeding problems you deal with as a lactation consultant?
Mothers concerned that they don’t have enough milk (they usually do have enough milk), learning how to breastfeed and sore nipples and concerns about a baby feeding too often (babies feed a lot!). Also working in a tertiary hospital – we work with mothers that have very preterm babies. We help them establish a milk supply by expressing breast milk and then assist when their babies are ready to breastfeed.

What are the most common misconceptions or ‘bad practices’ that mums or other health professionals bring to breast feeding?
That baby is feeding too often (newborn babies usually feed about 8-12 times in 24 hrs), or that the mother may not have enough milk. Health professional bringing their own feeding biases or out of date advice can be a problem too. When health professionals spent some time learning evidence based information they are a great support to women.

What happens in a typical lactation consultation with a patient?
Taking a medical and breastfeeding history of the mother and baby, examining the mother and baby and watching a breastfeed. We then making suggestion for ongoing management and follow up.

What advice would you give to breastfeeding mums returning to work?
Firstly know that combining breastfeeding and work is very achievable and good for health of mother, baby, and the whole family. Seek reliable breastfeeding information from organisations like the Australian Breastfeeding Association or a lactation consultant. Also I would advise to speak with their employer while still pregnant to plan for return to work.

You’ve recently helped to write the new Victorian Breastfeeding Guidelines, how have these guidelines changed in recent years?
This was a revision of the 1998 Victorian Breastfeeding Guidelines. We have ensured that the document is up to date, evidenced based with concise information about mastitis and other breastfeeding challenges. We have included more about breastfeeding for babies that might be sick or preterm and up to date resources for further information.

Is there anything else you would like to add about lactation consultancy as a profession?
Lactation consultancy has been rewarding and challenging, and has a great global professional community. Breastfeeding is important - it has long term health effects. We need to support women with their breastfeeding, understand the science of breastfeeding and continue to support research for breastfeeding so we can continue to give women and health professionals evidence based advice.


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