Not enough latch­ing-on is catch­ing on


Breast­feed­ing rates in New Zealand may be in­creas­ing slowly but it’s lag­ging in Manawatu, ac­cord­ing to Plun­ket data re­leased last week.

At the lo­cal cul­mi­na­tion of World Breast­feed­ing Week, Au­gust 1 to 7, 34 mums and bubs ‘latched on’ at the Chris­tian Com­mu­nity Church venue for the Com­mu­nity Birth Ser­vices-spon­sored event.

Of con­cern were re­ports that sug­gested Manawatu had the low­est rate of breast­fed ba­bies in New Zealand, ac­cord­ing to Breast­feed­ing Manawatu lac­ta­tion con­sul­tant Jackie Wheeler.

‘‘Ony 72 per cent of full-term healthy ba­bies leave Palmer­ston North Hos­pi­tal’s post­na­tal ward ex­clu­sively breast­fed.’’

That’s de­spite 90 per cent of lo­cal moth­ers ex­press­ing a de­sire to breast­feed be­fore birth, Wheeler said.

Plun­ket fig­ures for 2015 and 2016 showed na­tion­ally that 87.5 per cent of ba­bies aged be­tween 2 and 6 weeks re­ceived breast milk, a fig­ure 1.5 per cent higher than in 2013 and 2014.

‘‘It’s not the fault of moth­ers,’’ Wheeler said about the low lo­cal par­tic­i­pa­tion. ‘‘There is not enough sup­port and ed­u­ca­tion.’’

She also said a con­di­tion called tongue tie or lip tie could make it dif­fi­cult for some ba­bies to latch

‘‘[Breast­feed­ing] is just so con­ve­nient’’ Heidi Boyer, mum

on, while mak­ing it un­com­fort­able for women to con­tinue with breast­feed­ing. A tongue or lip tie is a piece of tis­sue that at­taches the tongue to the floor of the mouth, or the top lip to the up­per jaw.

Wheeler said this could af­fect the baby’s abil­ity to grasp the nip­ple, as well as ad­versely af­fect­ing moth­ers. She said a sim­ple sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dure to snip the tie could make a big dif­fer­ence to mum and her child.

Lily Jia had breast­feed­ing prob­lems caused by tongue tie for both her chil­dren. The La Leche League leader said she got around the prob­lem with her daugh­ter Avon, but re­quired help with her son Bruce, now 14 months.

First-time mother Jen Cook ad­mit­ted some ap­pre­hen­sion about breast­feed­ing Ade­lyn, now 7 weeks, which was about not quite know­ing what to ex­pect.

‘‘I wanted to give her the best start in life, so I was al­ways go­ing to breast­feed whether I liked it or not.’’

Heidi Boyer said she en­joyed feed­ing time with 12-month-old Van.

‘‘I re­ally like hav­ing the time to talk to him and nur­ture him... And it is just so con­ve­nient.’’

Com­mu­nity nurse co-or­di­na­tor for Pepe Hau­maru, Jes­sica Sand­brook said breast­feed­ing was not only af­ford­able and ef­fec­tive for feed­ing ba­bies, but also re­sulted in bet­ter health out­comes for mother and child.


Erin Evis with Iso­bel Evis (8 mths) talks with her mid­wife Tammi Heap.

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