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Free Bibs To Promote Breastfeeding

31 July 2008

Free Bibs To Promote Breastfeeding

World Breastfeeding Week will be celebrated in more than 120 countries around the world next week and Waikato District Health Board is getting in on the action too.

Each woman who gives birth in a Waikato birthing facility during the week will receive a free breastfeeding bib for their newborn along with some supportive information about the importance of breastfeeding.

The bibs have a cartoon baby with milk on his upper lip and the words "my breast friends" embroidered onto them.

Waikato DHB Healthy Eating Healthy Action (HEHA) project director Janet Hanvey says the bibs are a subtle way of saying that milk from mum is best for babies to give them a better start to life.

"Breastfeeding creates a special bond between mother and baby in the early months of life and if continued is proven to provide health benefits too.

"Women who breastfeed are less likely to suffer from breast and ovarian cancers, and from post partum haemorrhaging. It may also help with losing the weight gained during pregnancy.

"Breastfed children are less likely to have tummy upsets, respiratory and ear infections and it also helps reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease in baby's later life," Ms Hanvey said.

In New Zealand, the number of breastfed infants is low at six weeks of age, especially among Maori and Pacific women.

The theme for this year's breastfeeding awareness week is "Mother Support: Going for Gold" and coincides with the recently launched Ministry of Health's breastfeeding campaign that is calling for wider societal support of breastfeeding.

Waikato DHB is supporting the campaign locally as part of its HEHA project by actively encouraging all Waikato mothers to exclusively breastfeed their children for at least six months after birth.

But Ms Hanvey acknowledges it isn't possible for everyone.

"Breastfeeding may not be easy for everyone, but continuing to do it is definitely worth it - for mum and baby.

"Some women may experience difficulties with breastfeeding and we encourage them to seek support. For others it may become difficult with work commitments after maternity leave," she said

Waikato Hospital is also hosting a "Big Latch On" event for mothers and their babies currently in hospital to participate in an attempt to break the record for the most women breastfeeding simultaneously across New Zealand, set at 937 last year.

ENDS

Notes:

A photograph of the bibs is available at www.waikatodhb.govt.nz or by request.

Birthing facilities that will be offering free bibs are: * Waikato Hospital * Thames Hospital * Matariki Hospital * Te Kuiti Hospital * Tokoroa Hospital * Rhoda Read Maternity * Taumarunui Hospital * Huntly Birthcare * Pohlen Hospital * Waihi Hospital * Waterford Birth Centre * River Ridge East Birth Centre

Contact: Ashleigh Peek Communications Consultant Media and Communications Waikato District Health Board Phone: 021 359 315

About Waikato District Health Board and Health Waikato:

Waikato DHB is responsible for planning, funding and providing quality health and disability support services for the 353,460 people living in the Waikato DHB region. It has an annual turnover of $915 million and employs more than 5300 people.

Health Waikato is the DHB's main provider of hospital and health services with an annual budget of $530 million and 4500 staff. It has seven divisions across five hospital sites, two maternity and continuing care hospitals and 21 community bases offering a comprehensive range of primary, secondary and tertiary health services.

Other Waikato DHB-funded health services - including primary health, pharmacies and community laboratories - are delivered by a wide range of independent providers.

ENDS


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