Helensville Birthing Centre among nation’s best for breastfeeding

The Helensville Birthing Centre is pleased to be receiving its fourth accreditation under the
Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, a programme designed to promote breastfeeding. Staff at the centre will receive a specially made koru statue as a recognition of their high rates of breastfeeding mums, which puts them among the best in the country.
The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) was initiated in 1991 by the World Health Organisation and UNICEF. New Zealand adopted BFHI in 2000 when exclusive breastfeeding rates at discharge after birth were just 56% nationwide. That figure has improved to 83% and at Helensville Birthing Centre is 95%, reaching 100% for women who actually give birth at the centre.
In its fourth audit of the Helensville Birthing Centre, the New Zealand Breastfeeding Alliance found “women in Helensville are very fortunate to have such a supportive Birthing Centre and the staff are to be commended on the depth of information available to women.”
Lactation Consultant Debbie Tetlow says, “It is especially heartening when women who come to us after having had births such as caesareans, with the associated negative start to breastfeeding that entails, are able to overcome the initial difficulties and leave our centre successfully breastfeeding.”
The World Health Organisation recommends infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life for optimal growth, development and health. After that the WHO says safe foods can be introduced while breastfeeding continues for up to two years or beyond.
Debbie Tetlow says the challenge is to support women to continue to breastfeed once they return home as there’s a big drop off with only one in five babies nationwide being exclusively breastfed at six months, a long way from the WHO recommendation.
She says efforts to improve those rates locally include a well resourced website with lots of information on breastfeeding, antenatal breastfeeding classes and ongoing access to Helensville Birthing Centre lactation consultants. But the most important support is from the community itself through whanau and the always-popular mums and babies coffee mornings.

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