Health Dept issues new breastfeeding guidelines
The Department of Health has issued a new set of guidelines to increase Bermuda’s “very low” breastfeeding rates.
Fewer than one percent of Bermudian mothers currently follow international recommendations by exclusively breastfeeding their infants for the first six months.
“We have to improve these numbers, surely we can do better than one percent,” said Health Minister Zane DeSilva yesterday, announcing the new guidelines to a room full of young mothers which included his daughter Zarah.
The Minister said that the Island’s breastfeeding rates were low because of commercial influences that promote formula feeding and workplace policies which discourage the practice.
The guidelines will be distributed to healthcare professionals on the Island, encouraging them to educate women on the benefits of breastfeeding.
“We know breastfeeding protects babies from illness, lowers cancer risks for mothers, reduces healthcare costs for communities, provides financial savings for parents and has a positive impact on the environment,” the Minister said.
Mr DeSilva was joined by Cheryl Peek-Ball. The senior medical officer at the Department of Health said the guidelines would help women overcome the initial challenges of breastfeeding.
“Our goal is for the entire healthcare community to communicate simple and consistent messages to new mothers and to empower women to breastfeed successfully for at least the first six months of their babies’ lives,” she said.
The guidelines were welcomed by Melony Kendell of La Leche League, an organisation which promotes breastfeeding worldwide. She said mothers need to be encouraged to embrace nursing.
“We are thrilled that healthcare professionals in our community will now have additional information to support breastfeeding mothers,” she said.
Ms Kendell continued: “We encourage women to give their babies the best beginning by nursing and to seek assistance if they are facing difficulties. We also urge family members, friends and employers to support nursing mothers increasing our breastfeeding rates benefits everyone.”