Supporting, protecting and promoting breastfeeding
Women’s Health Action has held a contract with the Ministry of Health for the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding since 2001.We have a focus on:
- Ensuring the proper use of breast-milk substitutes, when these are necessary, on the basis of adequate information and through appropriate marketing and distribution.
- Promoting public health policy and creating supportive environments.
- Encouraging workplaces and communities to support women to initiate and maintain breastfeeding.
- Ensuring women and their whanau receive consistent messages and information about breastfeeding.
- Working with and supporting government agencies, community organisations and the business sector to support breastfeeding.
The second Growing Up in New Zealand study report ‘Now we are born’ found that 96% of pregnant women intended to breastfeed and most thought it would be ideal to do so for more than 6 months. However, only 6% of these women went onto exclusively breastfeed to 6 months. Data from Plunket (which sees around 92% of all babies) shows that exclusive breastfeeding rates are higher than those found in the Growing up in NZ study, however these rates are still low compared to women’s antenatal intentions sitting at around 17 % and dropping down to 9 % among Māori. This indicates efforts are needed to normalise and increase community support for breastfeeding.A number of factors have been identified as continued barriers to breastfeeding including:
- Returning to paid employment
- Perceptions of inadequate milk supply
- Problems during the antenatal and birth period
- The loss of breastfeeding as the cultural norm within communities
- Lack of confidence to breastfed in public
- Inconsistent messages from health workers.
The marketing of breast-milk substitutes continues to present an on-going challenge to the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding in Aotearoa New Zealand. Women’s Health Action leads a number of initiatives aimed at reducing some of the identified barriers to breastfeeding including:
Breastfeeding Friendly Workplaces
Women’s Health Action provides a dedicated Breastfeeding and Working website containing information for employees and employers. The site responds to enquiries from employers and employer organisation seeking support to implement breastfeeding friendly workplaces.
Women’s Health Action coordinates the Northern Breastfeeding Network. The network provides a platform for the collaboration of health workers and other relevant agencies to help achieve the provision of consistent, culturally responsive and accurate information, advice and support to breastfeeding women and their whānau.
Women’s Health Action provides a dedicated maternity and breastfeeding promotional stand at the Auckland Baby Show. The stand provides informative resources and a space for women to breastfeed. The stand offers a free onsite breastfeeding support service provided by Lactation Consultants, midwives, La Leche League leaders and Tamariki Ora providers.
For a number of years Women’s Health Action have worked collaboration with Ngati Whatua o Orakei Health to set up a breastfeeding and health area at Waitangi Day Celebrations. This space provides support, seating, shade and water for breastfeeding mothers and also information and advice on maternity support, tamariki ora services and smoking cessation.