Breast may be best, but it’s not easy

Netcare Milpark Hospital’s Breast Care Centre of Excellence gives hope to breastfeeding mothers

Monday, August 5 2013

On 1 August, in honour of World Breastfeeding Week, the Breast Care Centre of Excellence hosted a breakfast at Netcare Milpark Hospital to extend gratitude to the lactation consultants and others in the field who help new mothers nurture their children the natural way.

“These considerate women make such a difference to the lives of so many new mothers each day, helping to promote breastfeeding,” says Dr Sarah Rayne, specialist surgeon at the centre. “Their impact on families cannot be underestimated. This is why we thought it was important to acknowledge them in this way, during a week which focuses on supporting and helping breastfeeding moms.”

Breastfeeding is one of the most natural things a mom can do for her baby. It’s a wonderful way to ensure that babies get all the nutrients and antibodies they need. However, far from being easy and effortless, many new mothers struggle with breastfeeding as they battle to get their babies to latch or suffer from painful nipples or occasionally even get infections in their breasts.

One new mother who felt overwhelmed was Dr Rayne. “When having a baby, there is significant focus on the birth but very little attention is devoted to one of the most important aspects of new motherhood, namely, how to feed your little one,” says Dr Rayne. “At a time where mothers are recovering from the birth, feeling exhausted and dealing with the emotion and adrenaline of the birth, they also have to learn a new skill. When I recently had my baby boy, even given my years of specialist medical training, I was not prepared for how stressful and overwhelming it can be learning how to breastfeed.”

Although Netcare Milpark Hospital does not have a maternity ward, The Breast Care Centre of Excellence is happy to assist mothers in solving problems, which can arise with breastfeeding. “Breastfeeding is not always intuitive and often requires help,” reveals Dr Rayne. “Lactation consultants working in the community do invaluable work helping new mothers in teaching them how to breastfeed and just spending time with them answering all their questions and reassuring them. New mothers tend to put a lot of pressure on themselves when it comes to breastfeeding so it is a great comfort to have experts who know and understand what these women are going through. In most circumstances this is all a woman needs. Occasionally, however, a nipple problem, infection or abscess can develop. In those cases specialists with an interest in breast health are on hand at the centre to treat abscesses or infections with drainage and medication.”

The centre also caters to the realities which new mothers have to deal with. “Our appointments start from 6.45 in the morning, as we know that a mother’s day starts even earlier than that. Our multidisciplinary approach ensures that each mother can see all the specialists she needs within an hour or two so that there is little waiting in doctors’ rooms. We aim to offer comprehensive and seamless specialist care for new mothers, to help their treatment go smoothly. This is a tender and special bonding time for mother and child which needs to be protected and nurtured.”

The advantage of a breast care centre is that it offers specialist, expert care for anything breast-related. “For example, there is a misconception that abscesses should be cut out as this used to happen. These operations can cause much discomfort and result in unsightly scarring. Women with abscesses shouldn’t have to spend time in hospital, let alone be operated on, as even the most severe infections and abscesses can be treated by needle aspiration and careful follow-up.”

The centre’s approach is also tailored to each individual woman. “We believe that each woman’s case is unique and each mother has her own worries and concerns, so there is no set formula for patients. We also keep up with international best practice to ensure that we explore every option of care for the mothers who come to us for assistance,” explains Dr Rayne.

Netcare’s director of communications Kerishnie Naiker says that studies have shown that breast milk decreases infant mortality and morbidity, particularly in developing countries. The nutrients in breast milk assist babies to develop strong immune systems that help to fight off disease. It is for this reason that the Netcare group supports World Breastfeeding Week (WBW). WBW is celebrated in 120 countries from 1 - 7 August and serves as a reminder to all new mothers on the importance of giving their new-born babies the very best start in life by breastfeeding.

“In support of the South African Breast Milk Reserve’s Feed for Life programme, Netcare has established breast milk banks in nine of its hospitals,” observes Naiker. “The programme aims to decrease infant mortality and morbidity due to inadequate formula feeding. We encourage women to visit a breastfeeding bank and donate breast milk in support of this programme. The number of lives that are saved using donated breast milk cannot be underestimated .”

The Breast Care Centre of Excellence at Netcare Milpark in Johannesburg can be contacted on 011 482 1484, and The centre also focuses on breast cancer treatment and reconstruction, breast lumps and other breast diseases.


Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare
Contact: Martina Nicholson or Graeme Swinney
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
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