Latch­ing on to mes­sage

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - LANDSCAPING - PAULA HULBURT

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.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

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.

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