Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 31 October 2018) . . Page.. 4512 ..
I turn again to the draft strategy. It recommends accepting breastfeeding as “a social and family responsibility rather than an individual’s, and valued in economic and fiscal policy”. The strategy also recommends:
Fund a national marketing campaign on breastfeeding for breastfeeding to be accepted as normal and as a collective responsibility.
Of course, in the hospital setting it is very important to screen breastmilk donors. In the community it is less important, as you would generally know who the donor is and you may know them quite well. There should be no obligation to do this, but it should be seen as one of the most natural things in the world.
Overall, what we are talking about is not about dictating to women how they feed their babies but giving support to women and to babies at the crucial stages, particularly just at birth but also throughout the child’s infancy, when it may sometimes be that an otherwise successful breastfeeding situation has a small interruption and needs help.
It is important to recognise strongly the benefits of breastfeeding and to acknowledge that that stage of life has known risk factors for depression and anxiety which impact overall family health and wellbeing. We need to provide the options and information to enable women to make the best decisions for themselves and their children.
I support the motion. I also encourage mechanisms for the informal sharing of breastmilk. Clinical responses are absolutely needed in a hospital environment and can certainly benefit some women and babies. I commend Ms Cheyne for this motion.
MS CODY (Murrumbidgee) (10.51): I thank Ms Cheyne and everyone else who has spoken today on this very important motion. I was really lucky as a first time mum. As Mrs Jones has said, I had enough milk to feed a small country—probably a large country, actually. But as a new mum, that was really hard to deal with and hard to understand. Again, I was very lucky because the ACT health system has the maternity nurses that visit you in the home. They told me about a wet nurse and explained to me that not so long ago it would have been really natural for me as a woman not only to breastfeed my child but potentially to breastfeed many children. I would have been used to doing such a task. I am going back almost 21 years ago to my first child.
There were no possibilities of formal milk banks. As Ms Cheyne has suggested, some informal things occurred, but that was not something that I knew about or understood. So every morning, every lunchtime and every night, I would have to stand in an extremely hot shower to get rid of a whole bunch of milk that could have quite easily gone to babies in need.
As I read this motion today, I look back on those times and I thank Ms Cheyne for bringing this important matter to the forefront of the Assembly for discussion today. There are many women out there who would love to be able to breastfeed their children but unfortunately they are able to. It gives those women the opportunity to think about whether they would like to use breastmilk to feed their children. Some