Midwifery support is a vital aspect of the health sector for expecting or new mothers especially after the post-delivery period. This support especially cares and provides the accurate information to mothers for breastfeeding process and period.
Breastfeeding is very important for both the mother and the newborn babies as their health and right growth depends more on the mother breastfeeds. This has also been a main vision and mission for WHO and UNICEF, and they are looking for the exclusive breastfeeding approach for UK and European Union (EU) countries.
Midwifery and breastfeeding in Poland used to have a conventional approach, but after seeing how the UK works independently in the same field, steps and recommendations have been given to improve Midwifery support for Breastfeeding in Poland.
Equality of human rights during Maternity Period
A woman must be given the equal right, full dignity and equal opportunity to make her choices equally as a man gets. Similarly, the period of maternity is more fragile and important in the life of a woman. During this phase, a woman must get extra attention and special care from her surroundings to make her feel happy and prevent her from being degraded and dehumanised.
All European countries must respect the right of each human being according to the Human Right Act of 1998. Furthermore, UK has taken a step ahead in the Human right by ratifying the Rule or act on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, which prohibits pregnancy-related discrimination and requires the provision of healthcare for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Similarly Poland also follows the same acts on Human rights and human right for pregnant women. Following the recommendations of World Health Organization (WHO), many hospitals have started the Baby-friendly Hospital initiative in Poland that promotes safe breastfeeding for infants and also states its benefits to expecting and pregnant women.
The shift of Awareness from a less conscience to a more conscience Maternal care in Poland
Poland some 30 years back had a tradition that was very unfamiliar or in other words less conscience or educated on the maternal care. Pregnant women did not have the right to choose how they gave birth to her babies, how they could be supported by their partners in the delivery ward and even more surprised how to share the room with their newborn. This would bring lack of respect and dignity for the birthing mums, making them feel devoid of human support and will lead to the stressful situation after the birth and also make the breastfeeding process a more painful and complicated one.
The past or histories of Breastfeeding after birth were very low in Poland due to lack of privacy, loneliness and inadequate support during the birth of newborn babies. At that time most women experienced episodes of shock, felt humiliated and had no choice in the administration of pain relief, and also babies could not roam with their mother after birth – this led to the breastfeeding rates to be very low.
Since this was a big concern for the women as they had to face huge trauma during birth due to not being able to make decisions, the impact would take its call on the breastfeeding process which would become very uncomfortable and in many cases would affect the newborns health lead to low mortality rates compared to the current situation.
The situation on breastfeeding is much more different now, and women are now enjoying their labour, they don’t feel so lonely anymore. Bans on a partner to be on the side of the wife in the delivery room have been removed, and babies are placed in their mother’s arms after birth. This improvement in the hospital has been achieved by the campaign of “Childbirth with Dignity”. This leads to a more joyful experience and more willingness and acceptance for breastfeeding the newborn leading to a more healthy baby and leading to higher mortality in babies as compared to before.
The Childbirth with Dignity Campaign was carried out with full-on efforts by World Health Organization (WHO) and the Polish Ministry of Health which improved the way many hospitals operated and in turn gave the delivery mothers more confidence leading to higher breastfeeding acceptance. Breastfeeding is beneficial for infants at birth, and it is recommended that continues breastfeeding must be done after birth for at least six (6) months post delivery period for a healthier baby and mother. The table below summaries the above data, as can be seen, the participation of mothers during the time of birth and 2-months after the birth period for bread-feeding are having good numbers. This means the campaign mission and vision have been successful.
Data of number of mothers who participates in the study
|Mothers participating in the study||Mothers who stopped breastfeeding||Mothers who refused to participate|
|2 months||1217||0||462 (27.7%)|
|4 months||796||237||184 (10.9%)|
|6 months||654||334||25 (1.5%)|
|12 months||411||530||47 (2.8%)|
Although the aspect of breastfeeding process that is not encouraging is the post-delivery period which is after 4 months of the newborn baby’s birth. The figures during this period are declining in the acceptance of breastfeeding and this is visible from the table above. From the table, the mother who stopped breastfeeding is increasing in number starting 4 months from the delivery date.
Reasons for the decline in Breastfeeding after the Post delivery period
Despite many campaigns labelled “Childbirth with Dignity” there is still a decline in breastfeeding post-delivery period starting 4 months and onwards. There are two (2) main reasons for the decline of breastfeeding aster post delivery; lack of education and lack of midwifery support or hospital staff for the same period.
Lack of education for breastfeeding mother
Due to lack of post-delivery supportive programme and gathering events that educated the new mothers on the process of breastfeeding and its importance to the newborn baby has led to the mother stopping breastfeeding and switching to the formula based supplement for the baby. Most mothers think that either their babies are not getting enough breast milk or others think they are not producing enough milk. The mother needs to be educated for this period so that they don’t have complains and thoughts and in turn should have an intake of nutrition and necessary experience that would increase the flow of milk and ensure that the baby will get the milk for sustainable growth.
Lack of midwifery support for post-delivery care period
The post-delivery period is very important for both the Mother and baby, especially for the baby as he needs the mother milk for adequate growth and a better future. This requires the mother to breastfeed for at least 12 months, but the reality in Poland is opposite as mothers stop breastfeeding starting the 4-month post-delivery period. This is due to lack of midwifery support staff in this field and lack of programs and events for the mother to attend. During this period when mothers visit clinic, they are not given the right training and advice to have the right intake of supplements and exercise which will not make them have the negativity mindset relating to the breastfeeding process.
Revolutionized Breast-Feeding Practices in the UK
The UK in contradictory to Poland has an initiative of Baby friendly approach that has revolutionised the healthcare for newborn and their mothers as part of a wider global partnership with World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF. WHO and UNICEF work closely with Public Services & NHS in the UK to help and promote Baby Friendliness in Parents to ensure their babies get the love, care and nourishment they need to get the best possible start in life. One of the main approaches they promote between parent-infant relationship is Skin to Skin approach which brings the newborn and mother very close to each other.
The main strength and popularity of this programme have risen due to the non-discrimination approach to it. The programme intends to reach all families regardless of their origin or status. This programme is evidence-based structured programme whose main aim and focus on promoting and delivering real change for mother and babies so that the bond is very strong from the start. The programme is independent as it’s a collaboration between a large network of organisations, involving Government, Public services, Voluntary sectors and families. These approach works to educate and empowers all especially working with the families as they are the ones that will have the biggest change in their life.
Practices that have risen the interest of Mothers for Breast Feeding
The UK has adopted some very vital practices for the breastfeeding autonomy which is why the rate of breastfeeding has successfully risen. These practices continue exclusive breastfeeding through proper education, a programme to train health professionals and provision of factual data on breastfeeding against substitute supplements.
- The collaborations between UNICEF and WHO has strongly recommended exclusivity of breast feeding up to six (6) months of age with continued Breast Feeding along with appropriate complementing food up to two (2) years of age. Mother of the newborn must follow these guidelines for healthier growth of the baby to ensure a better and prosperous start to the life of the newborn.
- Promoting Breastfeeding through education is one of the most important aspects of this programme. Educating newly mothers on the know-how of Breastfeeding leads to increased acceptance and attachment with the newborn. This programme has introduced an early attachment support program between babies and their mothers to increase not only the bond between them but also to educate the mothers to differentiate between breastfeeding and formula feeding.
- Programme to train health professional is attained through Staged Accreditation Programme. This trains health professionals, hospitals, health visiting services and children centres to support mothers to Breastfeed and to build a close relationship with the babies. This programme further works with Universities and students to provide them with strong foundation and knowledge on feeding and parent-infant relationship. The major impact of this has helped new mothers who visit clinics to constantly get support and advice on nutrition and exercises that will increase and ease the feeding process leading to more mothers continuing the feeding. The programme ensures these professionals can provide sensitive and effective care and support for mothers enabling them to make an informed choice about feeding to get the breastfeeding off to a good start and to overcome any challenges they may face. This has led to the rate of breastfeeding to rise by 20%, which is the main vision of UNICEF and WHO on exclusive breastfeeding.
- Provision of factual and accurate advice has also been streamlined due to the collaboration programme of WHO and UNICEF. This practice has proven to provide accurate information to mothers on not only Breastfeeding but also on substitute of breastfeeding to ensure the baby’s health is protected from the harmful commercial interest of the market substitute.
The implementation of the above Programme and the consisting practices of the collaborated efforts of UNICEF and WHO has witnessed 85%-91% maternity units and health visiting services across the UK embrace and work towards Baby Friendly Accreditation. Not only this but the rising numbers came from young mothers who before the programme were not willing to breastfeed but after the awareness of the programme and their involvement has made them learn and change their perspective.
Recommendation for Breast Feeding Practice in Poland
The programme that was carefully planned and implemented in the UK also needs to be implemented in Poland to encouraging exclusive breastfeeding and to ensure that exclusive breastfeeding is a continues process and not for the first two (2) or four (4) months of post-delivery period. Also health professional need to be trained to provide effective and sensitive care to the new mothers so to empower and boost their confidence. Furthermore equip health services appropriately to ensure they provide actual and factual information to the mother along with a proper nutritional and exercise oriented sessions to further encourage and maintain the exclusivity of breastfeeding vision of UNIFEC and WHO.
The education part for newly mothers is more vital and shall not be overseen; the programme should educate mothers on the advantages of breastfeeding and have in place session and events where mothers can come together, communicate, share their experiences on breastfeeding and post-delivery period and enhance the confidence and willingness to continue breastfeeding. These recommendations should increase the rate of newly mother’s desire of breastfeeding and achieve a society and generation of more healthy babies that have good growth and a good start to their life.
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