Many ways to help nursing mums

By Alison King


IT DOESN'T matter whether you're mum to a baby or not, you can still have an involvement in World Breastfeeding Week.

The international week, which celebrates and promotes breastfeeding, started on Thursday and runs until Wednesday. The theme this year is Breastfeeding Support: Close To Mothers and it's something Lakes District Health Board lactation consultant and midwife Sue Pace believes everyone can do.

"The focus is peer support, ultimately we would like to see everyone in the community find a way to offer support to a breastfeeding mother," Mrs Pace said.

"Whether it's helping out in the house, acknowledging and accepting their right to feed their babies when out and about, an employer acknowledging and accepting a woman's right to feed or express while at work.

"We want families to embrace the fact the woman is doing the best she can for her baby."

If you have a friend who has recently had a baby Mrs Pace suggests visiting with a cooked dinner as one way to help support her with breastfeeding.

"Offering to do things for the mother that would normally take her away from her baby and the time to feed.

"This can be shopping, playing with older children, providing her with a meal, vacuuming, washing, emptying the dishwasher, most keen mums like these things done in the house but that takes away time to catch up on sleep or feed. Babies are huge consumers of time so giving that practical support is a good help."

Mrs Pace has had an interest herself in breastfeeding since she was 10.

"My neighbour had three babies in three years and I used to go and visit them after school and I became very interested in the role of a midwife. I've been a midwife for 34 years and breastfed four babies for a minimum of two years each."

The World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to2 years or beyond.

Mrs Pace said people could carry out the ethos of this year's World Breastfeeding Week by offering support to women who continue to breastfeed their baby beyond six months.

"If you see a breastfeeding toddler either do nothing and carry on life as normal or congratulate the mother on her commitment. There's a wonderful story going around the internet about a woman who fed her child in a restaurant and the waitress paid for a pizza as a way of congratulating her."

Mrs Pace also mentioned the poem Embarrassed, which has gone viral. It's a poem by a British mum who felt embarrassed to breastfeed in public and instead used public toilets.

"Unfortunately we don't live in a breastfeeding culture. We wouldn't need these laws and initiatives if we did.

"Breast is the normal way of feeding. It's what you're meant to do, it's the default and what your body is designed to do and how your baby is designed to feed."

She said not every woman was able to breastfeed their baby for a myriad of reasons and the hospital supported all mothers in how they feed their baby.

"A few people choose not to breastfeed but 98 per cent of mothers start breastfeeding, compared to the United States where only 70 per cent start.

"We do really well but we do have mothers who has every willingness and commitment to breastfeed but because of something either to do with her body or her baby it doesn't work."

The Rotorua Hospital Birthing Unit has recently been re-awarded its Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative accreditation, which has been attributed to improving breastfeeding rates.

The programme is an effort by UNICEF and the World Health Organisation to ensure all maternity services become centres of breastfeeding support.

Mrs Pace is available to provide breastfeeding support to mothers of babies up to six weeks and to all mothers accessing a district health board service no matter what age their breastfed child is.

For more information on World Breastfeeding Week visit worldbreastfeedingweek.org.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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