WHEN Norma Womersley and Julie Cummings started as breastfeeding counsellors in Warrnambool in the late 1970s, the practice was considered “animalistic.”
But their volunteer work and that of many other leaders of the Australian Breastfeeding Association’s (ABA) Warrnambool and district group has since contributed to a big shift in attitudes to where breastfeeding is now considered the norm for mothers.
Mrs Womersley said she had been heartened to see the change to breast milk being regarded as “the best milk in the world” for infants — not only by mothers but also by doctors.
Mrs Cummings said doctors in the late ’70s had about half a page of information about breastfeeding and about two to three pages of information about formula feeding. “I hope that has all changed,” she said.
A desire for more information about breastfeeding by local women led to the formation of the ABA’s Warrnambool group in 1976. It has since grown to about 150 members who have access to a range of services.
The group this month is celebrating the ABA’s 50th anniversary in Victoria.
It will hold a dinner on Saturday, February 15, at the Mid City Motor Inn and a BYO picnic in the Warrnambool Botanic Gardens on Wednesday, February 19, from 12.30pm-3pm.
Warrnambool group leader Tanya Morrison-Gass said research showed that more than 90 per cent of Australian mothers wanted to breastfeed.
The ABA played an important role to help and support mothers so they could breastfeed for as long as they wanted, Ms Morrison-Gass said.
The Warrnambool group supports local mums by running coffee mornings and discussion meetings, breastfeeding education classes, a Facebook page and providing baby feed and change venues.
Ms Morrison-Gass said the group was very active and inclusive, involving women who were not breastfeeding.
Mrs Cummings said that while breastfeeding was a natural act, it was still an “art” to do it successfully.
With adult members of modern families often scattered across wide distances, some mothers did not have the opportunity to learn from other family members about breastfeeding until they had their children, she said.
People interested in attending the ABA’s celebration dinner in Warrnambool should contact Michelle Moloney on 0415 408 886 or Marg Sinclair on 0427 314 701.