News > ​Leaving loneliness behind during breastfeeding

​Leaving loneliness behind during breastfeeding

​Leaving loneliness behind during breastfeeding
Emma Dillon (left) and Lesley Smythe, lactation consultants with the Tiaki Ukaipo service.

Last Updated: January 2020

Banishing the loneliness of the breastfeeding journey and walking the road with mothers and their whānau is the focus for Lesley Smythe.

Lesley is a lactation consultant with the Tiaki Ūkaipō service which supports mothers with their breastfeeding and offers a mixture of walk in clinics and home visits, including sensitive one-on-one support tailored to the needs of the māmā and pēpe.

While people are increasingly aware of the many health benefits of breastfeeding, the reality of establishing routines can be difficult. Financial pressures, lack of support or social and physical isolation can mount up to leave a new māmā feeling overwhelmed.

“I was speaking to a mother this morning who said “‘It’s just so lonely’…this is why it’s often just about encouraging people wherever they are on the journey.”

Those mothers facing difficulty respond really well to positive support, Lesley says.

“It’s often more about support for what the mothers are obviously achieving and then building their confidence for that…they often just need something like ‘that hand under them’ for support.”

When Lesley, or fellow student lactation consultant Emma Dillon,work with a whānau they can help resolve issues with practical advice, like how to help pēpe get the best latch, or the best position to feed in. Getting whānau fully on board can also be a game changer as well.

Lesley brings plenty of experience to the role, with her six children now living around the world. 

Together with her personal experience, she has clocked up 38 years as a La Leche League leader and has been a qualified lactation consultant for 17 years.

She has seen a huge amount during her time working with mothers but still remembers her first breastfeeding experience as tough until she found support.

“My first was that lonely experience of being the only one doing it. I’m very conscious that the support of other mothers is so important.”

The Tiaki Ūkaipō team is available for referrals and is covering an area stretching from Urenui in the North to Waverley in the South, and over to Opunake. With Lesley on board the service is keen to push the reach of its service, boosting awareness within the community and health sectors.

Early help can be the key to better outcomes so people should not hesitate to ask for assistance. Says Lesley: “The sooner they get to use the service, the easier it is to fix things.

It’s satisfying …and you share their road for a while, we just try to help them find their way through it all. I love the work I do and it’s great to do that in the community.”
  • Drop in clinics for the service are being held weekly. The service is available on Thursdays in Stratford at Pregnancy Help, 4 Romeo Street 9am-12pm. On Fridays the service visits 14a Domett Street from 9am-12pm and then moves to Ngāmotu at Tui Ora, 36 Maratahu Street, from 1.30-3.30pm. You can get in touch on either 06 7594064 or 027 522 8935. Email: breastfeeding@tuiora.co.nz
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