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The art of assisting

December 2021

In my area, the weather is crisp with frost at this time of year which incites to cozy indoors activities such as handcrafting. I looked, with awe, at my son’s dexterous hands weave the pieces of fabric together—A skill learned over time, from intergenerational hands-on projects.

Surely, the art of hand expressing breastmilk* was part of an intergenerational learning process, just as any other skill, like the art of weaving. May this observation pave the way to the topic of discussion: hand expression of human milk, this time, as part of an inter-professional teaching/learning process.

 Art of expressing

It goes without saying that communicating knowledge and skills required to assist the parent in hand expression of colostrum is by nature part of the learning activities when implementing quality care programmes such as BFHI/BFI.

Throughout the years of being implicated in suchlike activities. I’ve been privileged to meet wonderful teachers. People who instructed others (myself included) on how to do something; help mothers |parents express breastmilk by hand. It is recognized that one needs to be an effective teacher to help acquire skills. Teaching is, in my view, a skill in itself. Offering observers (students) an opportunity for learning, by modelling, when counselling a mother or caregiver [1] is a good example. It is also known that skills need work. The ability to do something well, because of training and experience are developed over time.

Some have reported that it is practical to have in-person access to a teacher while developing skills in helping a mother/parent manage milk expression[2], in a hands-off or hands-on-hands approach.[3] Undoubtedly, this manner benefits the learner in acquiring skills in the art of assisting, by giving an opportunity to gain knowledge through the teachings of the finest teachers: The experienced colleague, the mother/parent, and the baby. A humble way that may help to inspire a next generation of “artisans.”

May artfulness define your journey.

Manon Campagna, IBCLC
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La Leche League international. (n.d.). hand expressing. Retrieved from https://www.llli.org/breastfeeding-info/hand-expressing/
World Health Organization. (2020). Competency verification toolkit: ensuring competency of direct care providers to implement the baby-friendly hospital initiative: web annex D: examiner's resource (‎sorted by BFHI step)‎.
* breastmilk|human milk is used interchangeably throughout the text with intent of inclusivity.
[1] World Health Organization. (2020). Baby-friendly hospital initiative training course for maternity staff: trainer’s guide.
[2] ibid
[3] World Health Organization. (2020). Competency verification toolkit: ensuring competency of direct care providers to implement the baby-friendly hospital initiative: web annex B: COMPETENCY VERIFICATION FORM (SORTED BY BFHI STEP)




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