Lactamo’s Founder, Etta, and Professor Linda Sweet, Chair in Midwifery at Deakin University and the Western Health Partnership, were interviewed by Westpac for a feature on Lactamo.
"The lawyer turned start-up entrepreneur helping new mums"
Like many new mums, corporate lawyer Etta Watts-Russell was surprised at the problems she had when breastfeeding her first newborn.
“I’d just assumed the actual childbirth bit was the only difficult part of having a baby!” recalls Watts-Russell, who has four children under 10.
“So when I found breastfeeding difficult, and couldn't do it to the to the extent I’d wanted to, I thought, ‘oh, it must just be me’. I assumed it was my problem.”
When things didn’t get any easier with babies number two or three, and after speaking to other mums who’d had similar experiences, like milk supply issues, blocked ducts, infection and painful engorgement, Watts-Russell realised she was far from alone.
Reading up on the issue, she found that while 96 per cent of mothers in Australia initiate breastfeeding for newborns, fewer than 40 per cent of babies are exclusively breastfed to three months. By five months, it drops to 15 per cent, although around 60 per cent are still receiving some breastmilk by six months, according to the Australian National Infant Feeding Survey.
“In fact, no country in the world meets the recommended standards for breastfeeding, which really surprised me,” Watts-Russell says, referring to UNICEF and World Health Organization’s findings that, globally, less than half of infants are exclusively breastfed to six months.
And while there are many factors playing into these numbers, what struck Watts-Russell was the absence of products to help women address the physical challenges, such as debilitating conditions like mastitis, estimated to affect up to 20 per cent of breastfeeding mums worldwide, causing many of them to stop.