National Breastfeeding Week: Reminder that Breast is Best
6 August, 2013
National Breastfeeding Week: Timely Reminder that Breast is Best for Babies
During National Breastfeeding Week, UNICEF NZ (UN Children’s Fund) is reminding Kiwis that breast is best to make sure babies safely get all the essential ingredients they need for optimal growth.
Dennis McKinlay, Executive Director at UNICEF NZ, said “Encouraging and supporting mothers to breastfeed, if they are able to, is the most natural and effective way to ensure food safety and provide the perfect nourishment for infants up to 6 months old.
“There is worldwide evidence to show that breastfeeding saves lives and gives the best possible start to life for the baby. There is no other single health intervention that has such a high impact for babies and mothers and which costs so little for governments. Breast milk is designed by nature to be the perfect food for our most precious citizens – our infants.”
UNICEF NZ is a member and supporter of the Breastfeeding Authority which is a coalition of organisations dedicated to helping parents understand the value of breastfeeding. It also educates community workers, professionals and families in how to support breastfeeding mothers to maintain the practice for at least six months.
McKinlay added, “Our Government also has its part to play in helping mums to breastfeed for longer. Breastfeeding levels in New Zealand are low by the time an infant is six months old. We believe that extending paid parental leave to 26 weeks would be one way that the New Zealand Government could have a positive impact on breastfeeding levels in this country.”
During National Breastfeeding Week UNICEF is promoting the benefits of breastfeeding around the world. For example, in China, only 28% of mums exclusively breastfeed for six months - the figure has remained low due in part to the general lack of public facilities to accommodate breastfeeding mothers.
UNICEF China and the National Centre of Women and Children’s Health have launched a campaign to promote the establishment of breastfeeding rooms in the work place and public areas, to create an enabling breastfeeding environment and to support working mothers continue breastfeeding after their maternity leave and return to work.
Mr McKinlay added, “There is much New Zealand can learn from other countries, like China, who are proactively looking for ways to improve support for breastfeeding mums on their return to work.”
UNICEF is on the ground in over 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.
The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.
UNICEF is a charity funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments - www.unicef.org.nz