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The number of mothers choosing to breast feed their babies has almost doubled in the past 14 years thanks in part to a new hospital initiative.
More mums than ever before are choosing to breast feed their new borns after leaving Wairau Hospital’s maternity unit in Blenheim.
Staff at the unit were recently awarded a Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) accreditation certificate to mark their efforts in helping support new mums to breastfeed.
Wairau Hospital charge midwife manager Graham Cross says he has seen the breastfeeding rates steadily climbing.
‘‘The rate of exclusive breastfeeding for mothers of newborns who leave our maternity suites after their stay has increased from 42 per cent in 2004 to about 80 per cent in 2017, with regular peaks of up to 90 percent,’’ he says.
The BFHI is an international programme launched in 1991 by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund ( UNICEF) to ensure all maternity services become centres of breastfeeding support worldwide.
To become baby friendly the unit must adopt the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding as laid out by the World Health Organisation. Nelson Marlborough health associate director of midwifery Debbie Fisher says a significant amount of work goes in to reaching accreditation.
‘‘Once women leave the maternity unit they are also well supported by a number of breastfeeding friendly organisations such as Plunket, Te Piki Oranga and the Marlborough Breastfeeding Network,’’ she says.
Staff at Wairau Hospital’s Maternity Unit, from left, Gwen Costello, Jackie Martin and Debbie Fisher with proud parents Audrey and Faa Po Ligaliga with their baby Anetone.