We recently invited art and design students from around Melbourne to design a poster to celebrate and highlight Breastfeeding and Human Milk. We wanted to reach out to young up and coming designers to think differently to the “posters of old,” which we often see in the hospitals promoting breastfeeding. We asked the students to bring new light to this topic and ignite passion for a new way of thinking in health promotion.
Changing the Conversation Around Breastfeeding Starts with Education
The students were met by our Educator Katie and were given some education about breastfeeding and the common misconceptions or challenges faced by mothers now. Many of the students did not have children themselves, but were really interested in tackling this topic.
It was really great to see the interest for their project. The students were left with a brief and keywords to work with for their design.
How Can We Promote Long-term Breastfeeding?
In Australia 96% of women choose to breastfeed from birth, but by 5 months only 15% are still exclusively breastfeeding.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months and to include breastmilk in the infant’s diet for 2 years and beyond. The students were asked how we can promote longer term breastfeeding and help mothers feel confident about breastfeeding and their milk supply.
Breastfeeding is Normal, Achievable and Healthy for Your Baby
We also discussed with the students that we wanted to support mothers to feel breastfeeding is normal and achievable. You don’t need to be a “supermum.” All mums, no matter their lifestyle know that providing any amount of breastmilk to their baby is precious.
We wanted to move away from “perfection” words to do with breastfeeding – like the mantra “breast is best” as we felt mums do already know this, and do try their hardest to master breastfeeding.
We wanted the message of breastfeeding may be natural, but it is still a learned task which takes time and often a lot of patience for most mums and babies to master initially, and it is very normal to need good support from knowledgeable health professionals along the first few weeks and months.
It’s really important for the average woman in the street to value the ability she has and to feel confident in herself, without feeling that only the “perfect yummy mummy’ can achieve exclusive breastfeeding.
Which Words Best Represent the Breastfeeding Experience Today?
Here are some of the keywords we gave to the design students to help them start creating:
Mother’s milk / Prolonged breastfeeding (breastfeeding after 6-12 months of age) / NICU and SCN Normal / Achievable / Confidence in self / Breastfeeding / Preterm / Value of human milk / Milk as medicine / Exclusive breastfeeding / Living fluid / Immune protection / Gut microbiota / Stem cells of human milk / Mammals / Empowerment / Courage / Bonding / Love
We were so thrilled by the posters that were presented to Medela a few months later. We held a gallery show of these posters during our recent national human milk and lactation research symposium in Melbourne.
We had over 330 delegates in the field of lactation, midwifery, neonatal, and speech therapy attend to hear our national and international researchers present on their field of expertise in lactation and they visited and voted on their favourite poster. We’d like to share our winners with you here.
What do you think of the way that these images represent breastfeeding? What words would you use to describe your own experience with breastfeeding or motherhood? Please join the conversation here or on our Medela Australia Facebook page.