A new $415,000 Brumby Labor Government education program aims to boost breastfeeding rates across the state and increase local expertise available to mums.
Minister for Children and Early Childhood Development Maxine Morand said the Breastfeeding Education Program would provide online breastfeeding education for 800 maternal and child health nurses across Victoria.
“The Brumby Labor Government is committed to making sure families have access to the best possible infant and early childhood services,” Ms Morand said.
“This new program will also provide an opportunity for a maternal and child health nurse in each local government area to apply to become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.”
Ms Morand said breastfeeding provided an important bonding opportunity for mother and child.
“Established evidence shows there are significant short and long-term health benefits of breastfeeding for both mothers and their child,” she said.
“Currently in Victoria 85.8 per cent of mothers are either fully or partially breastfeeding when discharged from hospital after giving birth. This rate drops to 60.5 per cent at three months, and further reduces to 45.6 per cent by six months.
“This education package, which is part of our Victorian Breastfeeding Project, will ensure maternal and child health nurses have the skills to support mothers to breastfeed.
“In Victoria, 98 per cent of mothers are seen by maternal and child health services in the first few days after birth and are supported by these qualified staff in the vital early years. This makes the nurses ideally placed to offer ongoing encouragement, advice and support for women to continue breastfeeding.”
Breast milk contains antibodies to help fight disease and babies who are breastfed have a lower incidence of respiratory and gastric infection. Breastfeeding also reduces the incidence of chronic disease later in life including obesity, diabetes, childhood asthma and childhood leukaemia.
“We want women to know about the advantages of breastfeeding and to have access to the help and support they need to continue breastfeeding,” Ms Morand said.
Ms Morand also announced an allocation of $500,000 in Brumby Labor Government funding to help families provide safe sleeping environments for their children as part of the Enhanced Maternal and Child Health Service.
“A safe sleeping environment can help reduce the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, which causes the death of about one in every 2500 live births in Victoria each year,” she said.
“Through this initiative, funds will be made available to eligible families who have been assessed by the Maternal and Child Health Enhanced Service as needing assistance to provide safe baby equipment such as cots and baby capsules.”