Mater Research receives funding boost for Thompson Method breastfeeding study

Mater Research receives funding boost for Thompson Method breastfeeding study

Mater researchers Dr Jyai Allen and Professor Sue Kildea recently secured funding from Perpetual’s IMPACT Philanthropy Program to evaluate an innovative educational package for midwives and lactation consultants based on the Thompson Method of breastfeeding, aimed at increasing—and measuring—breastfeeding rates for new mothers.

Exclusive breastfeeding during a baby’s first six months has been proven to deliver significant health benefits, yet only 15 per cent of Australian mothers manage this World Health Organisation recommendation. This project aims to increase breastfeeding rates by using a baby-led breastfeeding technique, developed by Dr Robyn Thompson, that alleviates nipple pain.

The education package went live in Mater Mothers’ Hospitals in January 2018 and has already been completed by more than 80 per cent of midwives. All lactation consultants have received a training session from Dr Thompson, and are supporting midwives while they develop confidence with the method.

The Thompson Method incorporates immediate and uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact after birth until after the first breastfeed, holding the baby in the same arm as the breast being offered, and fine-tuning the position so that baby’s nose, chin and cheeks are symmetrical at the breast.

“The Thompson Method is important because women have been using the traditional technique and finding breastfeeding uncomfortable or even painful,” Dr Allen said.

Women receive information about the Thompson method in antenatal classes and from their midwives. During their postnatal stay a short video demonstrating the method is available and they can also access information about the method on the Mater Mothers’ Brochures website:

“From our previous study, we know about 24 per cent of women introduce formula in the first few days in hospital, which means their chance of breastfeeding until the recommended six months drastically reduces. The Thompson Method makes breastfeeding simpler and more comfortable.

“Breastfeeding is incredibly important because it reduces a baby’s chance of dying or getting sick in the short, medium and long-term from issues like respiratory infection, obesity, diabetes and childhood leukaemia.”

The $97 500 funding grant will enable Mater Research to engage Lactation Consultant Julie Germain from the Parenting Support Centre, to address barriers to implementation and evaluate the impact on breastfeeding rates at discharge from hospital, and at three months and six months after birth.

“We are now able to address some of the barriers to get this method used more widely. Mater mothers will be taught skills that make breastfeeding more comfortable, giving them greater confidence to breastfeed independently, for longer periods of time,” Dr Allen said.

“If our research demonstrates that the Thompson Method increases breastfeeding duration, it could have implications for how breastfeeding is taught to women in other hospitals in Australia, and other countries around the world.

“I am excited that Mater is leading breastfeeding research that aligns with midwifery philosophy that birth and breastfeeding are normal life events.

“This project aligns with our value of commitment to the health of mothers and babies, supporting them in the early days to become confident with breastfeeding. It also aligns with our value of care, as midwives work respectfully and sensitively with mothers and babies to support their innate ability to breastfeed.”

Julie Germain will be doing a live Facebook chat at 10.00 am on 7 August during World Breastfeeding Week where she will be talking more about the Thompson method.




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