The New Zealand Breastfeeding Alliance (NZBA) is advocating for stronger workplace policies for breastfeeding mothers to improve national breastfeeding rates once mothers leave hospital.
A big part of the post-hospital breastfeeding decline is a direct result of women feeling alienated about breastfeeding in the workplace and public places. As a society, we need to ensure:
all women have access to ongoing support
communities are consulted to establish the right facilities and services
health workers are educated to understand cultural issues
For many women, the decision to return to the workforce full time is influenced by the breastfeeding facilities available in the workplace. Whether you are working in a formal, non-formal or home setting, it is necessary that you are well-supported in claiming your right to breastfeed your child.
In New Zealand, there are many cases where women abandon breastfeeding partially or completely when they return to work. This is largely a result of mothers not having sufficient time or a place to breastfeed, express and store their milk.
The NZBA believes that creating supportive conditions at work such as paid maternity leave, flexible or part-time work arrangements and improved onsite facilities will help.
Paid parental leave
Paid parental leave in New Zealand is 18 weeks.
Breastfeeding to support better health
The World Health Organisation (WHO) states there is significant international evidence supporting that breastmilk plays a critical role in improving a baby's immunity and promoting a lifetime of good health.
The NZBA's goal is to see more babies being exclusively breastfed for longer however in order for this to happen breastfeeding mothers need a supportive working environment.
The decision to breastfeed is strongly influenced by societal norms, values and beliefs of women and their significant others. Breastfeeding-friendly workplaces are a key factor to improve national breastfeeding rates.
New Zealand's next challenge is to help mothers continue breastfeeding in the workplace by breaking down social barriers that many new mothers face so they can confidently and comfortably breastfeed for longer.