World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) which runs from 1-7 August aims to highlight the huge benefits that breastfeeding can bring to both the health and welfare of babies, as well as a wider push for maternal health, focusing on good nutrition, poverty reduction and food security.
"In Aotearoa New Zealand around 80 percent of babies are exclusively breastfed on discharge from baby-friendly services. However, this percentage drops significantly by six weeks after birth, and at six months.
“We’d like to see more babies being exclusively and fully breastfed for longer. In order to do this breastfeeding mothers need a supportive environment from immediately after birth when skin to skin and support to initiate breastfeeding are provided. Early health professional advice, as well as family and workplace support are important factors in how long a mother will breastfeed," said Paediatric Society President Nicola Austin.
NZ College of Midwives Chief Executive Alison Eddy said, “Breastfeeding should be seen as a shared responsibility and support given wherever possible. We understand that busy working schedules, alongside the many other challenges that modern women face can mean that women don’t always feel that breastfeeding their child is something that is an accessible option to them. It’s important that mothers are given as much support as possible to breastfeed for at least six months to give their baby the best start in life.”
NZ Breastfeeding Alliance Executive Officer Jane Cartwright notes that as part of World Breastfeeding Week organisations will be running a series of events featuring informative live chats, pre-recorded interviews with experts, and live Zooms with parents discussing their breastfeeding journeys and tips for overcoming challenges.
“As we prepare to celebrate, share knowledge and ideas, take a moment for yourself to reflect on what World Breastfeeding Week means to you and how you are entangling that passion into your everyday mahi of protecting, supporting, and advocating for breastfeeding parents and their tamariki.”
The Virtual BIG Latch On is happening on Friday and Saturday (6 and 7 August). Head over to the website to get involved.
The Government recently launched a National Breastfeeding Strategy, more information is available here.