/assets/images/headerlogos/AWW-logo.svg
Family

More support needed to help women breastfeed

The Australian Breastfeeding Association is calling for urgent government action to increase the number of lactation consultants, and boost the number of women breastfeeding nationally.

The Australian Breastfeeding Association is calling for urgent government action to increase the number of lactation consultants, and boost the number of women breastfeeding nationally.
Half a century ago a group of mothers started getting together over a cup of tea to talk about breastfeeding. There was little information about how or why to feed your baby breast milk, and the aggressive marketing of infant formula was just beginning."Breastfeeding rates were really bad back then," explains Nicole Bridges, mother-of-three and spokesperson for the Australian Breastfeeding Association."Now the initiation rates are really good in Australia – around 90 per cent – but the number of women continuing to breastfeed their babies falls dramatically at three months and six months."The World Health Organisation recommends babies are breastfed exclusively until six months, and then alongside solid foods for up to two years and beyond – with health benefits for both mother and baby.In Australia, 39 per cent of babies are still breastfed exclusively at three months, while just 15 per cent are being fed breast milk at six months or older.Nicole Bridges puts that down to a lack of support, "A lot of women have to return to work after a few months. But what many don’t realise is that they can combine work and breastfeeding, with the right support systems in place.
"What we need the Commonwealth to do is legislate for paid lactation breaks – which gives women the legal right to express milk, or feed her baby if it is physically possible."Beyond the lack of legal support, Nicole Bridges says Australian women face an uphill battle with the constant sexualisation of breasts."If you've got a mum who's struggling with breastfeeding, and then judged by a passerby for breastfeeding in public – that might be the final straw for her…"We have to get over thinking about breasts as sexual objects, and realise they are there to provide food to babies."Education is key, according to the Australian Breastfeeding Association – who is concerned about the lack of support available for mums."GPs get about an hour’s training on how to help women learn to breastfeed. There is no set tertiary course to become a lactation consultant, meaning women rely on our over the phone support to get advice, and reassurance that they are doing the right thing," Nicole explains."We want Australian women to reach their breastfeeding goals, whether it's for two months or two years. As a society, we need a cultural shift from the bottle to the breast."There are very few women who can’t physically breastfeed, but there simply isn’t enough support to help every new mum struggling with her new role," she adds.
"At the end of the day, we want to be able to support every mum, irrespective of their choice to offer bottle or breast. We just don’t want women to be forced into making that decision because of a lack of help."
The Australian Breastfeeding Association is celebrating their 50th Anniversary and World Breastfeeding week, which runs from August 1 to 7. Find out more on their website.

read more from

/assets/images/headerlogos/AWW-logo.svg