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Petitioning Chris Crawford, CEO, Northern NSW Local Health District, Australia

Save the Northern Rivers Breastfeeding Clinic!

The fantastic Breastfeeding Clinic, run from Lismore since 2006, is doomed to close at the end of June 2012 unless we can secure more funding.

This amazing service:
• has helped more than 1000 women face to face and over 2000 women with telephone consultations over the last six years
• has helped thousands of babies - most under four weeks of age, with the next largest group being 5-10 weeks of age.
• has provided face to face and phone consultations, drop in clinics at the Lismore Library and CWA Tea rooms
• has supported breastfeeding education with the Lactation Consultants speaking at antenatal groups, Indigenous health groups, playgroups and Australian Breastfeeding Association meetings
• has had outstanding results. A 2009 Southern Cross University evaluation of the program found that the “Breastfeeding Support strategy has enhanced the duration of breastfeeding for babies whose mothers attended its appointment clinic, with 76% of these babies being breastfed until at least six-months old, compared to only 55% of babies across the Lismore Communities for Children site” (Final evaluation report, Sallie Newell, Lismore Communities for Children).

The breastfeeding clinic service has been used by more than 3000 women in the past 6 years – where will these women go when the breastfeeding clinic closes? As rural mothers, we will only have the choice to travel long distances to Sydney or Brisbane, an unreasonable expectation for mothers with young infants and possibly older children too.

Breastfeeding is important to the health of mothers and babies and communities. The following facts result in enormous savings to the health care system, savings which will be greatly reduced if women are not supported to breastfeed their babies.

In comparison with babies fed artificial baby milk (formula), breastfed babies:
• are protected from illness and infection
• are less likely to be hospitalised with respiratory illnesses or gastrointestinal illnesses
• develop fewer chronic illnesses when older such as diabetes and obesity and Coeliac disease
• have lower rates of risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (cot death)
• have decreased likelihood of developing allergies

Mothers who have breastfed also have health benefits and:
• are at reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
• have reduced risk for heart disease and osteoporosis.

Breastfeeding issues can be distressful both physically and emotionally to both mothers and babies. Unless resolved quickly the result may be premature weaning of the baby. Mothers and babies with breastfeeding issues are best served by a lactation consultant staffed breastfeeding clinic.

The Breastfeeding in NSW: Promotion, Protection and Support Policy Directive calls for the provision of breastfeeding support services for priority groups, including young mothers, Indigenous mothers, and mothers who have had caesarean delivery – all women of significant demographic in the Northern Rivers. This Directive also recommends the maintenance of breastfeeding support initiatives currently in place. The Breastfeeding Clinic has done all of this, and should be funded to continue its fantastic work.

In line with The Breastfeeding in NSW: Promotion, Protection and Support Policy Directive, we petition Chris Crawford, CEO, Northern NSW Local Health District, to provide funding for the Breastfeeding Clinic so it can continue to support local mothers, their babies, and reduce health care costs both now and in the future.

This petition was delivered to:
  • Chris Crawford, CEO, Northern NSW Local Health District, Australia

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