Lactation Consultant, Educator and Author
Robyn Noble runs Bayside Breastfeeding Clinic, Australia’s first private breastfeeding clinic. In her role as Lactation Consultant, Robyn offers quality breastfeeding care and support for mothers. She is also passionate about breastfeeding education for healthcare providers, specialising in more comprehensive training and problem- solving. She is considered by her peers to be an expert in many aspects of breastfeeding management, including food allergy issues.
With a wealth of knowledge and experience acquired over a career that has spanned almost 40 years, Robyn always strives for full resolution of problems and improved understanding of difficulties often faced unnecessarily by women who want to breastfeed their babies. A well-known speaker at workshops and conferences around the nation, Robyn is especially interested in working with mothers and babies who still struggle despite previous help. For this reason, colleagues have suggested that her business name should be The Dead End Clinic!
Robyn has a Bachelor Degree in Medical Science and an Associate Diploma in Medical Laboratory Technology. She has held a Postgraduate Certification in Lactation Consultancy from the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners since 1990.
Amongst the many rewarding highlights of her career was representing her country on the International Board of Lactation Consultants Examination Committee in Washington, D.C., in 1996.
Breastfeeding is a surprisingly emotive subject.
Even amongst health professionals, she has sometimes found that it would be easier to discuss sex than breastfeeding.
Research confirms that in most Western countries, we typically grow up knowing almost nothing about breastfeeding.
What little we think we know is strongly influenced by more than a hundred years of very successful commercial efforts to normalise ‘formula’ feeding and to cast as much doubt as possible on its competitor.
Most of us have never seen a baby breastfeeding until we have our own.
Health professionals grow up in the same community as everyone else, so understandably need a comprehensive education to correct this general communal lack of knowledge – and to build their confidence in breastfeeding.
Surprisingly, health professionals working with mothers and babies can usually expect little depth to whatever breastfeeding education they may receive.
So breastfeeding remains an area of mystery to most Westerners, whether health professionals or not.
If there is very little about it in health professionals’ education, the message is that breastfeeding is not important, and secondly, that there is not much to know about it!
It leaves an education vacuum that commercial infant feeding interests have recognised as an opportunity to exploit. For instance, doctors receive regular visits from sales reps, extolling the supposed virtues of formulas.
The World Health Organisation and UNICEF have been documenting their activities for decades. It does not make pleasant reading.
From the hospital experience onwards, new parents consistently report problems with conflicting, confusing advice about breastfeeding. They are bewildered by the experience. This has been the subject of a large body of research, yet has not been satisfactorily acknowledged and dealt with.
Health professionals need to work together to fix this problem and to confound the formula industry’s ongoing efforts to seduce health care providers into becoming unpaid sales reps for a product originally intended to be just an emergency food for babies. For over a century, the formula industry has successfully and unashamedly promoted it as the everyday means of feeding babies. It is ‘fast food’ for babies, undercutting their health both in the short- and long-term.
There are also potential emotional and social consequences for them and their families. How can the rest of the community understand the truth of the current situation if health professions do not lead the way?
Research constantly reinforces the message that we are what we eat throughout our lives. Human milk sets up the best possible foundations for human babies’ health and optimal development for life.
With the emergence of the modern allergy epidemic, it has become even more vital that mothers are given the right information and help to breastfeed their babies for as long as possible.