Parents Centre’s position statement on infant feeding reads:
“Parents Centre believes that breastfeeding is the best form of infant feeding and will promote this position as breastfeeding has nutritional, immunological and psychological benefits to the infant. Parents Centre holds the position that it will educate parents to enable them to make an informed decision about infant feeding and support them in their choice.”
Breast milk is indisputably nature’s way of making little humans thrive. It contains all of the nutrients and benefits of mum’s immunity. It is specially made for baby’s different ages and stages (nature is very clever!) and is all a baby needs until they are around 6 months old. Breast milk helps to protect babies against infection and is free, safe, environmentally friendly and ready to use!
Breastfeeding can be easy to establish, but sometimes challenges do arise. It is important to find out as much as you can about breastfeeding before you have your baby, through antenatal classes, researching online, and through quality resources and books such as Best Feeding and The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (check out your Parents Centre library for these and other titles). Through reading and researching, new mums will better understand the science of breastfeeding and, coupled with solid support and encouragement, are much more likely to successfully breastfeed.
Breastfeeding takes time to establish, and in the early days it’s important to make time to do so. In the early days, breastfeeding can be very time-consuming and it may feel as if you are achieving little in your day – but you are achieving a lot! You are caring for, loving, and feeding your baby; you are giving them everything they need. The more time you take to relax and spend quality time in this new role in the early weeks, the easier life will be.
Don’t underestimate the role of dad/the partner! The support role of baby’s other main caregiver, encouraging and helping wherever they can, and in making mum comfortable and allowing her time to establish breastfeeding, is critical to successful breastfeeding.
It can take about 6–8 weeks to establish breastfeeding and build up a good milk supply, and where possible, mothers should delay returning to the work environment as long as they possibly can. If you are returning to work, your employer is required, as far as it reasonable and practicable, to provide appropriate breaks and facilities for employees who wish to breastfeed their infants or express milk during work hours.* More information on these provisions can be found at https://www.healthed.govt.nz/resource/breastfeeding-and-working
*These provisions have been in place since 1 April 2009, under section 69Y of the Employment Relations Act 2000. Further, The Employment Relations (Flexible Working Arrangements) Amendment Act 2007 provides certain employees with the right to request a variation to their hours of work, days of work, or place of work. Check out details of the Act at http://www.dol.govt.nz/er/bestpractice/worklife/flexibleworkguide
If you are expressing breast milk and your baby is under 3 months of age, all equipment will need to be washed and sterilised to prevent baby from getting sick. For babies over 3 months, all equipment and containers need to be thoroughly washed and rinsed but not necessarily sterilised.
You can store expressed breast milk in an airtight container with a sealed lid for:
- 4 hours at room temperature (keep it cool in a damp towel)
- 48 hours (2 days) in the fridge
- 2 weeks in the freezer box in the fridge
- 3–6 months in the separate freezer part of a fridge-freezer
- 6 months in a separate chest freezer.
Always store breast milk in the bottom half of the fridge or freezer, towards the back and away from anything that may contaminate it – e.g. meat products. Remember to put the date on the container, and use the oldest milk first.
Be aware that artificial nipples – teats and dummies – can interfere with the establishment of breastfeeding so it is best to avoid these, especially in the early weeks.
What happens when breastfeeding doesn’t go to plan?
Breastfeeding may come with its challenges. In these instances, it’s important to get help early. With the right expert advice and assistance, and with a positive mind-set, most breastfeeding obstacles can be overcome.
So get help early
These places give help and information about breastfeeding and can support you through what can be a very difficult time getting breastfeeding established.
- A lactation consultant – these can be hospital-based or private. Phone your local maternity hospital or 0800 452 282 (during the day) for contact details of a lactation consultant near you.
- Your midwife or other lead maternity carer (LMC).
- Your local Parents Centre Childbirth Educator.
- Well Care Provider, Plunket (your local Plunket nurse and/or Family Centres)
- La Leche League – for breastfeeding information and breastfeeding support groups. Find a group near you at www.lalecheleague.org.nz
What other options are there for infant feeding?
Breast milk sharing is experiencing a revival, with new mothers using online communities to help feed their newborns with human breast milk. Yes, there are networks in New Zealand which put mums wanting donated breast milk and those with excess supply in touch with each other:
- · See ‘Human Milk for Human Babies – New Zealand Aotearoa’ on Facebook, or
- · ‘Eats on Feets New Zealand’ on Facebook.
The milk-sharing network Human Milk 4 Human Babies (HM4HB) is a steadily-growing community with more than 15,000 members worldwide. Check out their international website at www.hm4hb.net
The most common argument against milk sharing is that there is the risk of disease from using unscreened donors. Research suggests that the risk of transmission of infectious diseases, such as hepatitis and HIV, from sharing breast milk is minimal, as donors are already breastfeeding their own babies and generally are aware of the lifestyle required to produce healthy human milk.
If you have received professional help and breastfeeding is not working out for you and your family, or if you choose to, infant formula is an option. Formula provides adequate nutrition for a baby until they can start solids around the 6 month age mark, however it does not provide the immunological and health benefits that breast milk gives your baby.
For further information on formula feeding, you can refer to the Ministry of Health website link as follows: https://www.healthed.govt.nz/resource/feeding-your-baby-infant-formula It tells you everything you need to know in one easy link.
Your midwife, and your Well Care Provider, such as Plunket and Parents Centre Childbirth Educator, can provide assistance and support – do not hesitate to contact them.
Advice from Parents Centre
Parents Centre is clear on our position: We promote breastfeeding as the best and normal form of infant feeding. We offer our support and encouragement to all parents, whatever journey they take and whatever path they choose, or end up taking. We recommend you contact your Well Care Provider, Childbirth Educator or Lactation Consultant for further information on feeding your baby. Some Centres offer phone contacts or support networks for baby feeding, and the Ministry of Health has further resources which offer good, researched information. You can visit their website at www.health.govt.nz
This article can be opened and printed here: