Statistics from the 2008 Infant Nutrition Survey show that while 95% of new mothers initiate breastfeeding, many do not go on to exclusively breastfeed for six months as recommended by the National Health and Research Council and World Health Organisation.
Under a new ambitious national policy women are being encouraged to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months. The breastfeeding strategy also aims to increase the numbers of mothers who continue breastfeeding their babies and supplementing with solids for 12 months and beyond. An example of the implementation is the Queensland Health’s 12+ months on the breast – normal, natural, healthy The aim to help Mums overcome the barriers that lead many women to cease breastfeeding within six months.
However the goals would require a huge rise from present norms under which only 14 per cent of mothers fully breastfeed their babies to six months. Nearly half of mothers have abandoned reliance on breastfeeding only after three months
The Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, said Australia did not have high levels of breastfeeding compared to many other countries. ”Yet all of the evidence shows breastfeeding children for a longer period of time than is common in Australia has enormous health benefits both for the child and for the mother.”
Essential Baby quotes Dr Jennifer James, breastfeeding expert as saying that government leadership was vital to making breastfeeding socially and culturally acceptable in Australia.
“Considering over a quarter of Australians think that breastfeeding in public is unacceptable, we know there is a long way to go,” Dr James, a course co-ordinator in the Department of Nursing and Midwifery at RMIT University, said. She said particularly worrying was that many women in the 18-25 age group, tomorrow’s mothers, disapproved of breastfeeding in public. It appeared the change in attitudes among young women from previous generations was linked to the rise of the ”boob-flashing” era and the sexual display of breasts ”They become very numb to it [breastfeeding]. When you put it in the context of nurturing a baby, there is this yuk factor.” (Essential Baby)
Support for workplaces to adapt to the needs of breastfeeding mothers was also essential ”if we are serious about boosting breastfeeding rates”, she said. (Essential Baby)
It is very simple … breatfeeding is best for baby, mum … and in the end society. When it comes to babies … Breast is best!