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Kiwi breastfeeding plateau set to change

Kiwi breastfeeding plateau set to change

A plateau in the Kiwi breastfeeding rate over the last few years looks set to change, for the better, according to the Royal New Zealand Plunket Society.

Plunket’s general manager of clinical services, Angela Baldwin, said the Ministry of Health’s Breastfeeding Action Plan launched today (subs Wednesday 20 November) will actively promote the undeniable benefits that breastfeeding offers both mother and child.

“This is the kind of initiative that bodes well for the future. Actively promoting efforts to increase the breastfeeding rate is an extremely welcome development and the Ministry of Health is to be congratulated.

“Since 1907 right up to today, the Plunket Society has encouraged and supported mothers in breastfeeding their babies. The history of breastfeeding is a classic tale with a happy ending,” Ms Baldwin says.

“By that I mean, from the very beginning, it has been a natural and healthy thing to do and as time has gone on, the story has got better – medical and nutritional science has discovered breastfeeding offers more benefits than anyone would have originally guessed,” she said.

Ms Baldwin said that breastfeeding helps prevent common illnesses in babies, including diarrhoea, and infections of the ear and urinary tract.

“It can also help reduce a woman’s risk of many diseases and some cancers like breast and ovarian cancer. Many believe an increase in New Zealand’s breastfeeding rates may reduce our hospital admission rate and our nation’s levels of diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

“In addition the simple act of breastfeeding – the holding and cuddling of the baby, even the loving talk – helps create a very important and nurturing bond between the mother and child.

Ms Baldwin said there is a raft of reasons to ensure breastfeeding becomes better integrated into daily life and an equal number of ways it can be done. The most important thing is for all sectors of society to recognise the benefits and to use that as a motivator to support women to breastfeed - and for the women themselves to persevere and to seek help if they encounter difficulties.

“Breastfeeding isn’t always physically easy and it isn’t always convenient, but in an environment that is family-friendly and with the support of others, it is much more likely the difficulties that arise can be overcome. The more we offer our support, as a society, the more we will see the far-reaching benefits of breastfeeding.”

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