News and Notices

Baby Friendly accreditation endorses breastfeeding support

The rate of exclusive breastfeeding for mothers leaving Wairau Hospital's Maternity Unit has increased significantly since the unit was accredited as a Baby Friendly Hospital.

Recently the New Zealand Breastfeeding Authority presented staff at the unit with a Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) accreditation certificate and a koru statue.

The BFHI programme encourages maternity units to adopt practices that fully protect, promote and support exclusive breastfeeding from birth and is a Ministry of Health requirement in all maternity units.

The unit has achieved accreditation over the past 10 years and Charge Midwife Manager Graham Cross says he has seen the breastfeeding rates steadily climbing.

“The rate of exclusive breastfeeding for mothers of newborns who leave our maternity suites after their stay has increased from 42 per cent in 2004 to about 80 per cent in 2017, with regular peaks of up to 90 percent,” he says.

What it takes to be a 'baby-friendly' unit

To become baby friendly the unit must provide good care to mothers and their babies before, during and after birth and adopt the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding endorsed by the of the World Health Organisation.

Debbie Fisher, Nelson Marlborough Health Associate Director of Midwifery, says a significant amount of work goes in to reaching accreditation.

“This includes training all staff that have contact with breastfeeding mothers or infants, including clinical, clerical and non clinical staff, “ she says, “and ensuring all our policies and  practices support, promote and protect breastfeeding.”

Debbie says breastfeeding rates have increased as a result of providing women with consistent support and advice.

“Once women leave the maternity unit they are also well supported by a number of breastfeeding friendly organisations such as Plunket, Te Piki Oranga and the Marlborough Breastfeeding Network, which is a multiagency group working together to support, promote and protect breastfeeding in Marlborough.”

Jane Cartwright, Executive Officer of the New Zealand Breastfeeding Alliance said the Wairau Maternity Unit staff have shown a significant commitment to breastfeeding over the past nine years maintaining their standards and a breastfeeding rate at discharge from the unit at around 82 per cent. The Nelson Hospital Maternity Unit is also BFHI accredited.

Baby friendly hospital initiative accreditation ceremony

From left: Wairau Midwife Gwen Costello, Jackie Martin (midwife and lactation consultant), Debbie Fisher (Associate Director of Midwifery) celebrate the maternity unit's 'baby friendly' status with proud parents Audrey and Faa Po Ligaliga with their baby Anetone.