Published: 25 June 2020

Legislative Council Thursday 25, June, 2020

Ms FORREST question to LEADER of the GOVERNMENT in the LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL, Mrs HISCUTT

With regard to breastfeeding rates in Tasmania and related data:

1 Does the Government recognise and promote the benefits of breastfeeding?

2 What are the breastfeeding rates for Tasmania for each of the last 10 years noting both fully or partially breastfeeding rates, listed separately at:

2.1 Hospital discharge (by hospital);
 3 months postpartum; and
 6 months postpartum?

3 What measures were taken to support breastfeeding mothers during the COVID-19 shutdown period?

4 What research is being done to consider the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on breastfeeding rates and success?

Answers:

1 Breastfeeding is supported by the Tasmanian Health Service and more broadly in the Tasmanian community using a range of strategies.
Tasmania is the only Australian jurisdiction to have all hospital Maternity Services accredited through Baby Friendly Health Initiative (BFHI). The BFHI aims to create a healthcare environment where breastfeeding is the norm, and practices known to promote the wellbeing of all mothers and infants are promoted. Tasmanian hospitals provide a supportive environment for breastfeeding ensuring that all mothers receive unbiased information, appropriate support and factual advice about infant feeding.
The Child Health and Parenting Service (CHaPS) provide information, support, assessment and advice including clinical services related to breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding information and resources are provided through the Healthy Kids Toolkit as part of the Healthy Tasmania Initiative.
Public Health Services coordinates Breastfeeding Coalition Tasmania, a partnership that brings together Tasmanian organisations working to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.

2 Breastfeeding rates at hospital discharge have remained relatively stable for some years. About 85 percent of women are breastfeeding when they leave hospital.

Table 1 Women who gave birth and breastfeeding at maternal discharge 2012 - 2017

Year

Percentage breastfeeding (including partially)

2012

82.5

2013

83.7

2014

83.9

2015

84.6

2016

84.3

2017

85.6

Breastfeeding rates at 3 and 6 months postpartum for the Tasmanian population are not routinely collected or reported. 

3 Tasmanian hospitals were able to continue their services supporting women with usual access to lactation consultants and midwifery support during the COVID-19 shutdown, however some changes were required to service models.
For example, during March 2020 and April 2020, Maternity Services at the Launceston General Hospital modified their service to account for restrictions within inpatient settings and group sessions. Adaptations included the introduction of phone and online support for women being supported to breastfeed at home.
Public Health Services led the development of a fact sheet on Feeding your baby safely when you have COVID-19 for the Tasmanian Coronavirus website. The intent of this fact sheet was to ensure breastfeeding was well supported and clinicians were informed along with expectant parents and currently feeding parents.

4 Breastfeeding rates at maternal discharge from hospital will continue to be monitored. Research into the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on breastfeeding rates has not been planned at this stage.

 

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