Hospitals breastfeeding ‘key’ for new mums
Reported November 14, 2009
A LEADING obstetrician has questioned the worth of the national breastfeeding strategy and instead called for more beds in public maternity hospitals.
Gino Pecoraro, the Australian Medical Association Queensland’s president-elect, said allowing new mothers to stay in hospital longer would improve breastfeeding rates and reduce the risk of post-natal depression.
State and federal health ministers meeting in Adelaide yesterday endorsed a five-year plan to increase breastfeeding. Details of the strategy will be released publicly before the end of the year.
Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young’s Health of Queenslanders: Prevention of Chronic Disease 2008 report revealed that by six months of age, only 59 per cent of the state’s babies were still breastfed.
Brisbane-based Dr Pecoraro said he was concerned the latest Government strategy was a politically expedient solution, rather than one which tackled the hard issues, such as adequate hospital bed numbers.
“We know from studies around the world that early discharge, which has become the mantra, certainly in our public hospitals, is associated with higher rates of post-natal depression and lower rates of breastfeeding,” he said.
“Allowing women to stay in hospital an extra couple of days until their milk comes in has been shown to raise breastfeeding rates.”
Dr Pecoraro said that women also needed additional support after going home, such as being able to access drop-in centres staffed with professionals.
He said expecting all women to be able to breastfeed was unrealistic.
“Why don’t we just provide the factual information, that there are distinctive advantages for mothers and babies with breastfeeding, and allow people to make their own decisions?”