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Breast Is Best At Westfield Chartwell

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A Westfield NZ policy that supports breastfeeding in its malls is a step in the right direction according to Waikato District Health Board.

Now in force at Chartwell, the breastfeeding policy supports and allows all new mothers to breastfeed their baby in the open areas of the mall.

Private parent rooms are available but under the policy, mothers have the choice of breastfeeding on the couches and seating areas located throughout the mall.

Healthy Eating Healthy Action (HEHA) project director Janet Hanvey commends Westfield for the support they are providing to new mothers.

"Breastfeeding is a very normal thing and something that is strongly recommended for all newborns.

"By allowing new mums to carry out this very normal activity Westfield is showing that it supports the health recommendations and supports new mums in their efforts to achieve them.

"The right support is crucial for breastfeeding success," she said.

Ms Hanvey is encouraging other local businesses and malls to follow suit.

A local advocacy group, made up of representatives across the Waikato health sector worked with Westfield to develop the policy.

Known as Breastfeeding Advocacy Coalition of Kirikiriroa, the group campaigns for more environments that protect, promote and support breastfeeding as the cultural norm.

The Ministry of Health recommends exclusive breastfeeding of infants for at least six months and then alongside other foods for up to two years of age.

"Breastfeeding gives children the very best start in life. They are less likely to have tummy upsets, respiratory and ear infections and it is also proven to help reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease in later life.

"Women who breastfeed are less likely to suffer from post partum haemorrhaging and breast and ovarian cancers. It may also help with losing the weight gained during pregnancy," Ms Hanvey said.

In New Zealand, the number of breastfed infants is low at six weeks of age, especially among Maori and Pacific women.

Ms Hanvey said this is something they are working to increase as part of the HEHA project but she acknowledges it isn't possible for everyone.

"Breastfeeding may not be easy for everyone, but keeping at it is definitely worth it.

"Some women may experience difficulties with breastfeeding and we encourage them to seek support. For others it may become difficult with work commitments after maternity leave," she said.

1-7 August is World Breastfeeding Week, an awareness week celebrated in more than 120 countries around the world.

During this week, Waikato DHB is offering free bibs and some supportive breastfeeding information to new mums in Waikato birthing facilities.

Ms Hanvey said the DHB gave the bibs out last year and they were a big hit.

"We had a great response and not surprisingly they were all gone by the end of the week."

The embroidered bibs have a cartoon baby with milk on his upper lip and the words 'my breast friends'.

"It's just a subtle way of saying milk from mum is best for newborns to give them a better start to life," Ms Hanvey said.

Birthing facilities that are offering free bibs for World Breastfeeding Week are: ▪ Waikato Hospital ▪ Thames Maternity ▪ Matariki Maternity ▪ Te Kuiti Maternity ▪ Tokoroa Maternity ▪ Rhoda Read Maternity ▪ Taumarunui Maternity ▪ Huntly Birthcare ▪ Pohlen Hospital ▪ Waihi Hospital ▪ Waterford Birth Centre ▪ River Ridge East Birth Centre

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