‘Challenging but fun’: Westmead mums balance breastfeeding and work

Westmead Hospital urogynaecologist Lucy Bates takes a break at work to feed her son Charlie.

Breastfeeding at work is not easy, but mums who choose to do so are grateful for the support within Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD).

Urogynaecologist Lucy Bates gave birth to her son Charlie in November last year, and returned to full-time work at Westmead Hospital Women’s and Newborn Health in February.

Since then she’s been able express during work, either at her desk or taking a break from clinics. She can also breastfeed at work when stay-at-home dad Tim brings Charlie in for a visit.

“I’m lucky to be in an environment where it’s possible to express multiple times a day, and to work in a department that’s very supportive,” Lucy said.

“And of course people always enjoy Charlie’s visits.”

Staff specialist Lucy Bates is a popular figure in Women’s and Newborn Health, and never moreso than when Charlie comes for a lunchtime visit.

August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week, with a focus on empowering parents and enabling breastfeeding through creating parent-friendly workplaces.

Lucy said being in a supportive workplace, with the flexibility to be able to express several times though out the day between seeing patients or between operations, allowed her to return to work earlier.

The same is true for Westmead Hospital midwife Samantha Cox, who returned to work in June after 10 months off for the birth of her second daughter Matilda.

Her new schedule allows her to breastfeed before and after work, with the flexibility to take an additional break during the day to express if necessary.

Westmead Hospital midwife Samantha Cox has recently returned to work and still breastfeeds her 10-month-old daughter Matilda.

“It’s important to me to be able to continue breastfeeding and the support from my colleagues and managers makes it so much easier,” Samantha said.

“I’m never made to feel like I’m letting the team down, which makes me feel so much more comfortable to keep enjoying this special time.”

Westmead Hospital will be celebrating World Breastfeeding Week with events including a peer support breastfeeding session, a webinar about tongue ties, and a debate about how long to breastfeed (see schedule below).

Lucy said while she’s grateful that Charlie can continue enjoying the benefits of breast milk, each mum needs to work out what’s best for her and her child.

Charlie had difficulty breastfeeding at first, and Lucy utilised a broad network of support including online communities.

“Breastfeeding is not easy. I’m lucky to have the help of my husband, friends and family, a supportive workplace, and we accessed the tongue tie clinic and a lactation consultant,” she said.

“I found online support groups were immensely helpful, especially in the first few months which can be quite difficult and isolating. It’s good to know you’re not alone.

“If you want to keep breastfeeding, then do what’s right for you; it is hard work initially but definitely worth persevering. If you are struggling, find a good support crew and seek help.”

Support is also available from the volunteers at the Australian Breastfeeding Association.

Would you like to work for Western Sydney Local Health District? Check out our job opportunities here.

Westmead World Breastfeeding Week activities, 1 – 7 August 2019

Thursday 1st August
9.30am – Morning tea
1.45pm – WEBINAR Tongue Tie: Assessment and management of Ankyglossia in infants. WECC Level 1 Case study room.

Friday 2nd August
2.30pm – ‘Breastmilk anyway’- one year along. In-service session with Anne Fleming. Maternity seminar room

Monday 5th August
2.30pm – Peer support breastfeeding session. Patient lounge. Staff and their babies also welcome

Tuesday 6th August
2.30pm – Debate: How long is too long? Breastfeeding beyond the second year. Patient lounge

Wednesday 7th August
2.30pm – Breastfeeding Quiz in-service session with Kate Gillis. Maternity seminar room