The Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) has used this year’s World Breastfeeding Awareness Week, 1-7 August, to call on the federal health department to fully implement the key priorities of the Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy.
The strategy was developed last year as an overarching policy to support the World Health Organization’s breastfeeding guidelines and is designed to be a rolling long-term policy – subject to regular checks and monitoring.
The ABA is more than 50 years old and is Australia’s largest breastfeeding information and support service, assisting more than 80,000 mothers each year.
ABA Canberra group co-leader, Megan Fox, said the COVID crisis and last summer’s bushfires had exposed weaknesses in government and charitable efforts to feed infants and young children in the event of emergencies.
“There are gaps in our current plan,” Ms Fox said.
“Children need the best start to life; in particular they need access to quality food, even in emergencies.”
ABA’s Canberra group has 40 trained volunteers, who in recent months have been helping new mothers connect to breastfeeding information and support through virtual group meetings and live chat services. They have just this week recommenced face-to-face small meeting groups.
Ms Fox said many mothers were “eagerly anticipating” the chance to reconnect with friends they have made through ABA in a COVID-safe way.
She said the current health crisis had made things difficult for new mums and babies.
“I met a three-month baby who hadn’t met another baby yet,” she said.
“Usually, they would be rolling around on the ground together, so it’s a new world for babies as well.”
The ABA run programs in partnership with workplaces to help provide “breastfeeding-friendly spaces” and to support new mums.
The organisation works with cafés, by providing “breastfeeding friendly stickers” to give the issue visibility and give mums confidence to breastfeed in a supportive environment.
Ms Fox said Canberra was a welcoming community and breastfeeding was generally culturally accepted.
ABA Canberra is conducting a park playdate in Gungahlin tomorrow morning from 10.30am until 11.30am.
For more information on the playdate or for breastfeeding information and support, visit: www.breastfeeding.asn.au/