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Breastfeeding information kits released

In an effort to provide the best possible advice to pregnant women about breastfeeding, the Australian Government has released two comprehensive information kits designed to help parents plan breastfeeding their infants both at home and in the workplace.

Representing the Federal Minister for Health, Federal Member for Hughes, Mrs Danna Vale, used National Breastfeeding Awareness Month to launch the 'Balancing Breastfeeding and Paid Employment' resources kit and the 'Antenatal Breastfeeding Education Resource Package' at the Royal Hospital for Women in Sydney.

Both projects are initiatives under the Federal Government's $2 million National Breastfeeding Strategy.

Dr Ellen McIntyre from Adelaide University led the team who developed the workplace breastfeeding resources kit. Fifty thousand kits will be distributed to workplaces around Australia from this month.

"Statistics show that about 27% of Australian women return to work within the first 12 months of their baby's life. Finding ways of combining breastfeeding and paid work is likely to be an issue for these women," Dr McIntyre said.

"My team has produced resources for employers to support mothers continuing to breastfeed once they return to paid employment. Material has also been developed for mothers to help them balance breastfeeding with work."

"There are so many benefits to both mothers and employers through supporting breastfeeding that not to facilitate the practice in workplaces around Australia would be a golden opportunity lost," Dr McIntyre said.

Professor Lesley Barclay led a project team to develop the Antenatal Breastfeeding Education Resource Package. It is a set of resources designed to assist those in antenatal education to better provide expectant mothers with the knowledge, skills and resources they need in order to breastfeed their new infants.

Funding was provided to the University of Technology Sydney to develop the project.

Professor Lesley Barclay, says it will help in achieving the Government's breastfeeding target of having 80% of babies at least partially breastfed up to six months of age.

"Most Australian women begin breastfeeding but some do not breastfeed for long enough and there are some women who do not breastfeed at all," Professor Barclay said.

"Too many expectant mothers still get poor advice about breastfeeding, causing them to stop before they really want to.

"This resource kit is especially important as it uses the latest research on women's own experience to improve the quality of information and support women get from their antenatal educators.

"The central aim will be to increase the initiation rates of breastfeeding in groups that are not choosing to breastfeed and to increase the duration rates of those women who are breastfeeding," Professor Barclay said.

The project features three education package materials including antenatal group materials, a 30 minute video and accompanying poster, and non-English speaking background materials and strategies.

These resource materials have been developed using the combined expertise of the UTS, Family Health Coalition, the Royal Hospital for Women, New South Wales Health, and the Centre for Community Welfare Training.

The information package will be distributed nationally to antenatal educators and obstetricians in Australia from this month.

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