Breastfeeding and baby care in corporate plans

Why this is important

A baby-care room is a room that provides facilities for carers to attend to the needs of babies and toddlers, such as breastfeeding, expressing breast milk, feeding fluids and solids, and changing of nappies.

Breastfeeding is shown to be the healthiest start for babies, providing greater protection from a range of preventable illnesses and chronic diseases throughout the life cycle while promoting the development of a loving bond between mother and baby.(1) As it is not the societal norm to breastfeed in public, the availability of breastfeeding facilities can assist mothers in breastfeeding for longer.

To support normal growth and development it is recommended to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months of an infant’s life, followed by the introduction of appropriate solid foods and continued breastfeeding until at least twelve months of age.(1)

Breastfeeding promotes good health and dramatically lowers the incidence of a number of illnesses both during childhood and later in life, reducing health care costs. Breast milk is available at the right temperature and imposes no costs on the environment in terms of production, packaging or waste disposal.

Breastfeeding benefits both babies and their mothers. Breast milk reduces an infant’s risk of ear, gut and chest infections in addition to protecting against asthma, allergies, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), diabetes and obesity. Breastfeeding also helps to protect mothers against breast cancer, ovarian cancer and osteoporosis, in addition to reducing stress and depression and encouraging bonding.(2)

Increased labour force participation by mothers of infants also presents new challenges to continuing breastfeeding. Based on the 2001 National Health Survey, one in 10 mothers weaned their baby before six months to return to work.(3) Early weaning can also be attributed to an environment in which there are many disincentives, and few incentives to continue breastfeeding throughout a baby’s first year. Breastfeeding-friendly places and work policies can assist mothers in breastfeeding for longer periods.(4)

Strategies

  1. Ensure facilities to support breastfeeding and baby care are established in new and modified developments, including council owned or operated facilities
  2. Work in partnership to establish and implement a breastfeeding support program to:
    • develop a network of breastfeeding-friendly public places
    • improve community understanding about the importance of breastfeeding, food safety and personal hygiene by providing information to relevant agencies and community organisations
    • increase the number of local premises that are awarded the Australian Breastfeeding Association Baby Care Room Accreditation (for information on how to be awarded this accreditation click here)
    • support and expand initiatives that raise the profile of breastfeeding, such as:
      • the annual World Breastfeeding Week (click here)
      • the Australian Breastfeeding Association’s Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace Accreditation (click here)
      • the Baby Care Room Awards (click here)
      • the Breastfeeding Welcome Here campaigns (click here)
    • promote initiatives such as the above with the media.
      Organisations to assist council to implement this strategy include:

      • Australian Breastfeeding Association
      • chambers of commerce
      • community safety committee
      • Department of Communities
      • local breastfeeding action groups
      • Queensland Health
      • Retail Traders Association
  3. Develop a breastfeeding friendly workplace policy supporting lactation breaks, flexible working options, access to baby-care rooms and support from managers and colleagues. Queensland Health has an example of a work and breastfeeding policy (click here)

References

  1. World Health Assembly (Fifty-Fourth) 2001, Infant and Young Child Nutrition: Resolution, WHA54.2.
  2. NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council) (2013). Infant Feeding Guidelines: Summary. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council.
  3. Australian Bureau of Statistics 2003, Breastfeeding in Australia, 2001, Cat. no. 4810.0.55.001, Canberra.
  4. New South Wales Health 2002, Eat Well NSW: Strategic Directions for Public Health Nutrition 2002-2007 Final Draft Consultation.