Impacts of Birth Intervention & Understanding Infant Competence: Q&A with Cathy Watson Genna

As one of the leading experts on assisting infants with anatomical, genetic, or neurological challenges to feed, we at Lactation Matters are thrilled to talk with Cathy Watson Genna, IBCLC.

As the author of two essential books for lactation professionals (Selecting and Using Breastfeeding Tools: Improving Care and Outcomes and Supporting Sucking Skills in Breastfeeding Infants), we spoke with her about issues faced by new families in the early days.

Want to learn more? Hear her at the upcoming 2019 ILCA Conference, 24-27 July in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Lactation Matters (LM): As practitioners, we see how often families face huge barriers at the start of their feeding relationship. What do you see as the places they struggle most? 

Cathy Watson Genna (CWG): Birth interventions are a huge barrier as they can interfere with both mother and baby’s competence for breastfeeding. Sometimes, we need to use technology or medication to safeguard the dyad during birth, but these things are over-applied and have consequences for breastfeeding.

Another major issue is the infant incompetence model. Thinking that 
babies need control rather than support interferes with breastfeeding.

LM: Are the barriers consistent around the world?

CWG: Birth interventions are common all over the world. In some countries of the world, even those where incomes are low, Cesarean rates are high and can impact breastfeeding. Even nations that do not struggle with breastfeeding initiation still have difficulty supporting parents to sustain breastfeeding and breastfeed exclusively.

LM: How can we, as lactation professionals, best support families in the early days?

CWG: In addition to incorporating brief supportive education into prenatal 
care, we can help parents see their infant as competent so they don’t over-control their baby and thwart their breastfeeding behaviors. We can facilitate sensitive parenting by helping families understand their infant’s communication and needs.

Learn more from Cathy and other leading experts. Join us at #ILCA19.

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