Researchers provide support and encouragement for mothers during World Breastfeeding Week

As World Breastfeeding Week is marked around the globe from 1-7 August – Western Sydney University researchers have come together to offer support and encouragement to breastfeeding mothers.

Professor Virginia Schmied and Dr Elaine Burns from the University’s School of Nursing and Midwifery are midwives, mothers and researchers working in the field of maternal, infant and family health.

In a recent paper published in Women and Birth and titled 'The Right Help at the Right Time' Dr Burns and Professor Schmied highlight the impact of peer support and midwives in assisting mothers overcome the challenges of breastfeeding.

“In Australia approximately 96% of infants start life breastfeeding. However after 5 months, only 15% of Australian infants are still breastfed exclusively,” says Dr Burns.

“Our research suggests that when peer support counsellors and privately practicing midwives interact with women as a ‘knowledgeable friend’, it increases maternal autonomy and enhances women’s’ confidence with breastfeeding.”

Whether you’re a breastfeeding mother or not, Professor Schmied and Dr Burns say World Breastfeeding Week is an opportunity to appreciate the growth and development of children from around the globe.

It is also an opportunity for the researchers to reflect on the University’s successful Mother’s Day Letters Project, launched in 2018, in which mothers were invited to give advice and encouragement to other mums.

During World Breastfeeding Week, the University will be sharing across its social media channels poignant advice about breastfeeding, in the hope that it will encourage and support new mums who might be struggling.

The notes of advice, obtained during the Mother’s Day Letters Project, include:

“Breastfeeding can be difficult and painful for the first 8 weeks but should get better after that. Hang in there. It’s like learning to ride a bike; it lets your body and baby work together and gives time for you to understand how your milk production works and what it feels like.”

“Breastfeeding can continue for as long as you want…seek out information and support to combine work and breastfeeding and keep going for as long as you both want to.”

“A midwife wisely told me that the baby is learning what to do as well. Don’t expect your baby to feed at exactly the same time every day— you don’t have a coffee at the same time each day so you can’t expect your baby to do the same.”

For more information about World Breastfeeding Week, visit: in a new window)

For additional information, support and advice, please visit: Australian Breastfeeding Association(opens in a new window) and Raising Children Network (opens in a new window)


1 August 2018

Jessica Cortis, Media Officer