World Breastfeeding Week 2013: The Government and Legislation Circle of Support

During World Breastfeeding Week 2013, we will be highlighting the work of IBCLCs in each of the 5 Circles of Support mentioned in this year’s theme ~ Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers. Each weekday during this celebratory week, we will be shining the light on innovative and exciting models of care in each of these areas. Check back everyday for more encouraging examples of breastfeeding supporters being close to mothers.

Susanna Scurry, Australia

photo sueWe were able to interview Susanna while at the 2013 ILCA Conference in Melbourne, Australia. Susanna is a midwife, and lactation consultant since 2005 and also a Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) assessor and educator. She was also on the board of Australian Lactation Consultant Association (ALCA) and Lactation Consultants of Australia and New Zealand (LCANZ). She shared with us the following responses.

This year’s World Breastfeeding Week theme is “Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers”. The organizers have identified 5 Circles of Support that are critical for breastfeeding mothers in our world and one of those circles is “Government and Legislation”. Can you describe for us a bit what work you are currently doing or hoping to do in the field of lactation and the government? How did you become involved in this work? What would a typical day of working at the government level, supporting breastfeeding look like?

I am a big fan of Marilyn Waring, a New Zealand economist who states “An economic model that does not value clean air, clean rivers, forests, unpaid work by women, and breastfeeding is unsustainable.” I am all for an economic system that promotes, protects, and supports normal birthing, breastfeeding, and sustained home visits to parents . I support anything that is making a community better for today’s parents, as they say , “it takes a village to raise a child”! What I value for future generations, including for my 6 lovely grandchildren, is for a sustainable future.

My focus is on women’s health. For many years, I have been advocating for a human milk bank in our neonatal unit and family centered care in our NICU facility as well as a public IVF clinic in Newcastle along with community birthing, and palliative and aged care. I talk about the public health implication of not using breastmilk and also my support of BFHI. I truly believe it is “from the cradle to the grave”. If we had skin to skin contact throughout life, we would have a much kinder world.

The World Breastfeeding Week organizers stated “Women who plan to breastfeed or who are already breastfeeding benefit from the support of international documents, protections for optimal infant feeding, plus active and well funded national commissions. Legislation that combats aggressive marketing of breastmilk substitutes and enacts paid maternity leave also benefits breastfeeding women.” Can you expand a bit on what some of the unique challenges are that women in your community face that could be improved through legislation?

I appeared before the Productivity Commission to argue the case for paid parental leave. I am proud of the four month paid parental leave granted but I think twelve months would be better and will continue to argue for this. I have also lobbied for many years for the implementation of the WHO Code in Australia. The Marketing in Australia of Infant Formula (MAIF) agreement is a toothless tiger and I would like to see it gone. Australia had a Parliamentary Inquiry into breastfeeding in 2007 and all of its recommendations should be implemented.

What are some of the current initiatives, laws, and policies that support breastfeeding women in your community? What are your hopes for the future?

We need to expand BFHI into the community, pediatric offices, child care centers, etc. We also need to reclaim breastfeeding in our culture. Australia needs, at a federal level, to have a paid breastfeeding coordinator as recommended by the World Health Organization and breastfeeding representation at an International level as well. I will continue to work towards these goals.

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  1. World Breastfeeding Week 2013: The Health Care System Circle of Support in Papua New Guinea | - 7 August 2013

    […] We have been honored to have interviews with support happening in the workplace, in the community, in the government, and with families in crisis. The final circle of support is the health care […]

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