|10 April 2006
Press Release: NZ College Of Midwives
New Zealand women are to be congratulated for
the significant increase in breastfeeding rates.
The number of babies being exclusively
breastfed1, for the first 6 weeks
of their lives has increased by 6% since the year 2000, there's been
an 8% increase in the number being exclusively breastfed from 10
weeks to 16 weeks of age and a 4% increase for those aged 16 weeks
to 7 months.
New Zealand College of Midwives CEO, Karen
Guilliland says the figures are good news for our babies, their
mothers and families.
In this day and age where work pressures and
family lifestyles can be so great, women should be congratulated for
the fact that more of them are feeding babies exclusively
breastmilk, and for longer.
"Research shows that if babies are
exclusively breastfed then the duration of breastfeeding is
increased and the benefits that breast milk gives are enhanced even
further," she says.
Mrs Guilliland says mothers have increased
their knowledge of breastfeeding, which has been assisted by the
support of maternity specialists, like midwives and further
facilitated by groups like Plunket.
Royal New Zealand Plunket Society General
Manager of Clinical Services, Angela Baldwin, agrees and says there
have been changes in society which may have supported the increase,
including the impact of parental leave.
"Paid parental leave encourages women to
stay at home for longer which allows new mothers more time to focus
on breastfeeding with the support of their midwife and Plunket
nurse," she says.
Karen Guilliland says the increase in
breastfeeding rates has wider, positive implications for society as
"Breastmilk basically provides our babies
with a boost to their immune systems. There are fewer illnesses and
diseases in breastfed babies, which of course makes for a healthier
society overall. For those mums who find they cannot breastfeed,
part of our job as midwives is to provide the best information and
support for each woman so that she can make her own decision."
Mrs Guilliland says the breastfeeding rate
increases are heartening and encouraging news for the health of our
Angela Baldwin believes the "baby
friendly hospital initiative", which supports proactive
practice around breastfeeding, has also made a real difference.
Both Angela Baldwin and Karen Guilliland say
there's still room for improvement.
"We must continue to support research
into breastfeeding and lactation, continue to inform society of the
importance of breastfeeding and of course continue to provide
support to parents and prospective parents," says Angela
"Our focus is the well-being and best
outcomes for New Zealand women, their babies and families. These
latest breastfeeding figures paint a positive picture as far as
those aims are concerned and we will continue to work hard to
further improve the breastfeeding rates," says Karen
1 Exclusive breastfeeding:
The infant has never, to the mother's knowledge, had any water,
formula or other liquid or solids food. Only breastmilk, from the
breast or expressed, and prescribed medicines (as per the Medicines
Act 1981) have been given from birth.