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Greens release policy to help give babies breast start in life

Media Release
Larissa Waters 12 Mar 2019

The Greens will boost maternity care and breastfeeding support with a $10million per year pledge announced by party leader Senator Richard Di Natale and co-deputy leader and first person to breastfeed in federal parliament, Senator Larissa Waters today.

Public hospitals will receive the additional $10m a year to understand the experiences of mothers who have recently given birth through a survey of experiences of care, including breastfeeding support, and to expand the number of public hospitals that are accredited as Baby Friendly.

“We recognize that maternity care is complex and the system is currently underfunded and not sufficiently focused on new parents and babies,” Dr Di Natale said.

“We want to ensure everyone is able to get best-practice pregnancy and post-birth care regardless of where they live in this country.

“Our breastfeeding and maternity care policy will help breastfeeding mums get the support they need, and will also increase access to up-to-date information in the antenatal and postnatal period. It complements other Greens’ initiatives to improve our healthcare system and support women’s rights and address the roots of gender inequality.”

Senator Waters said she had received great care and support when she had her two daughters, which helped her to be able to breastfeed her daughter Alia in the Senate in 2017, but not all new mums received that, especially in rural and regional areas.

“Breastfeeding isn’t possible for everyone, but where it is possible, it gives babies a great start in life. Our health system must do more to support breastfeeding mums and increase rates by breaking down the known barriers.

“It’s just not good enough that only 23 per cent of hospitals are accredited under the Baby Friendly Health Initiative and that women in so many areas outside of metropolitan areas are unable to access maternity care and breastfeeding support.

“Our plan for a survey of prenatal and antenatal care will collect valuable data about birth and care experiences of women in hospitals so policy decision makers can ensure our health system is meeting their needs. We’ve allocated $4m per year for four years for this important initiative.

“We will also ensure all public hospital maternity facilities meet best practice standards for promoting and supporting breastfeeding by giving $6m per year over four years of additional funding for public hospitals to become Baby Friendly accredited.

“Together with a reversal of the cuts made to public hospitals by the major parties, our plan will go a long way to helping give babies the best start in life and that’s in the best interests of us all.”

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