Breastfeeding

Overview

Breastfeeding is the best first food for all babies and is also good for the health and wellbeing ofBreastfeeding mothers too. It is easily digested, immediately available and always fresh. If you eat a healthy diet then your breast milk provides baby with a perfect blend of nutrients and protective antibodies. It is recommended that babies are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. After six months, breast milk is not enough on its own for a baby to grow and develop.  Therefore, breastfeeding should be continued until a baby is at least one year old with the addition of solid food from six months.

A recent study in 2015 by Women’s Health Action shows that women are four times more likely to stop breastfeeding their baby at three months of age or less if they receive no workplace support. The same study also showed that over one-quarter of respondents (28%) are not aware of the 2008 Infant Feeding Amendment to the Employment Relations Act 2000, which is designed to provide guidance for the protection and promotion of breastfeeding through breaks and facilities. The following section provides workplaces with information and resources to assist workplaces to support their staff who are breastfeeding.

To find out why being Breastfeeding Friendly is important in your workplace  click here.

Incorporating Breastfeeding into your Action and Evaluation Plan

Your efforts to promote and support a breastfeeding friendly environment should consider a multi-level approach to ensure it is effective and sustainable.  A multi-level approach involves considering what is available at each of the following levels:

  • Organisational (e.g. policies and procedures)
  • Environmental (e.g. infrastructure and facilities)
  • Individual (e.g. opportunities, information and training)

 See the following sections for examples of how to address breastfeeding at each of these levels.

Organisational Change

Organisational change ensures the workplace’s policies, practices and culture support breastfeeding employees returning to work.  Examples of what you can do in your workplace include:

Develop a breastfeeding friendly policy or include breastfeeding in a standard employee wellbeing policy. Consider including:

  • Key concepts relating to Employment Relations (Breaks, Infant Feeding, and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2008 and Code of Employment Practice on Infant Feeding and Breastfeeding in the workplace
  • Increasing employee awareness of the importance of breastfeeding
  • Supporting pregnant and breastfeeding employees to continue breastfeeding when returning to work
  • Offer flexible working arrangements to pregnant employees and mothers to allow time to attend appointments, support groups and to breastfeed
  • Providing adequate facilities and breaks for breastfeeding employees

Create a supportive environment for women considering breastfeeding by:

  • Achieving Breastfeeding Friendly Accreditation
  • Include information on support for breastfeeding in employee induction
  • Communicate and offer support to employees during their pregnancy and before returning from leave to develop a clear and flexible return to work plan

Encourage managers to show support by role modelling proactive behaviour and promoting a positive attitude among other employees

Environmental Change

Creating a healthy working environment can support breastfeeding and families. Examples of what you can do in your workplace include:

Provide facilities that support women to breast feed or express when returning to work, including                                                                                     

  • A safe, clean, quiet, warm room or space (not a toilet) with a chair and lockable door
  • A washbasin, power point, table and fridge (or chilly bin with ice packs) for storing expressed breast milk
  • Car parking so that a carer can bring the baby to the workplace as required
Display positive breastfeeding messages throughout the workplace

Individual Change

Individual change focuses on opportunities for knowledge and skill development to support new mothers to start and continue breastfeeding.  Examples of what you can do in your workplace include:

Provide information sessions or resources offering information about and support for breastfeeding and related topics

Provide information on breastfeeding friendly public spaces, such as local cafés

Support and promote access to breastfeeding support services for new mothers

Provide information about correct selection and use of infant formulas for employees

Promote or participate in national/international campaigns (such as World Breastfeeding Week)

Sign up to e-newsletters and promote to the staff. Examples of local e-newsletters with breastfeeding information include: Plunket, New Zealand Breastfeeding Authority (NZBA), Wellchild

 Promote the free Breastfed NZ app to new parents so they have easily accessible information on hand

Community Links and Partnerships

To access a variety of useful services and resources relating to Breastfeeding see our Community Links page.

Page updated 13 Feb 2018