Protect Breastfeeding – shared responsibility – World Breastfeeding Week

Department of Health

The 2021 theme for World Breastfeeding Week is Protect breastfeeding - a shared responsibility

The 2021 theme for World Breastfeeding Week is Protect breastfeeding – a shared responsibility

The Australian Government recognises that breastfeeding is not always easy, but it is one of the best ways to support the health of mother and infant. Any amount of breastmilk benefits the infant.[1] It protects infants against infection and some chronic illnesses and helps promote healthy brain, eyesight and speech development.[2]

There are also many benefits for breastfeeding mothers including reduced risks of ovarian and breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.[3]

Australia’s Infant Feeding Guidelines (Guidelines) recommend exclusive breastfeeding to around 6 months. The Guidelines also recommend continuing breastfeeding to

12 months and beyond, or for as long as the mother and child want.

The Department of Health is putting into action the Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy: 2019 and beyond (Strategy). The Strategy aims is to improve support for breastfeeding so that more infants can be breastfed for longer. Currently in Australia about 29% of all babies are exclusively breastfed to around 6 months of age.[4]

With better structures in place, more supportive communities and spaces that promote and encourage breastfeeding, we can all help give infants their healthiest start.

[1] NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council) (2013). Infant Feeding Guidelines: Summary. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council.

[2] NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council) (2013). Infant Feeding Guidelines: Summary. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council.

[3] Stuebe A(2009). The risks of not breastfeeding for mothers and infants. Reviews in Obstectrics & Gynecology. 2(4): 222-231 cited in COAG Health Council 2019 Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy: 2019 and Beyond pg 23

[4] Australian Bureau of Statistics (2019) National Health Survey: Breastfeeding, 2017-18 Breastfeeding Latest release accessed 02 August 2021

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