Nursing mothers to get more support in 'breast is best' push

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MOTHERS will be encouraged to feed their babies only breast milk for the first six months as part of an ambitious new national breastfeeding policy.

The goal would require a huge rise from present norms under which only 14 per cent of mothers fully breastfeed their babies to six months. Nearly half of mothers have abandoned reliance on breastfeeding only after three months.

Federal and state health ministers yesterday endorsed the strategy which calls for more community acceptance of breastfeeding in public, more support and training for mothers before and after delivery and increased access to parental leave.

... "considering over a quarter of Australians think that breastfeeding in public is unacceptable, we know there is a long way to go,'' ...

She welcomed the recommendation for more support for mothers to begin breastfeeding by placing newborn babies in skin-to-skin contact with mother immediately after birth. Too often babies were taken away for jabs and checks after delivery, at odds with newborn babies' ''extraordinary capacity to find the breast, attach and feed''.

Support for workplaces to adapt to the needs of breastfeeding mothers was also essential ...

The Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, said ... ''... all of the evidence shows breastfeeding children for a longer period of time than is common in Australia has enormous health benefits both for the child and for the mother.''

The breastfeeding strategy for 2010-15 also aims to increase the numbers of mothers who continue breastfeeding their babies and supplementing with solids for 12 months and beyond ...

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448