Hāpai Te Hauora slams the appalling behaviour of an Auckland bus driver this week who kicked a breastfeeding mother off his bus. "This is simply unacceptable," says Fay Selby-Law General Manager for the National SUDI Prevention Coordination Service at Hāpai Te Hauora "we should be supporting our mums to breastfeed, not shaming and stigmatising them. I can’t believe a mum and her baby were left on the side of the road in this hot weather by a publicly funded transport company. This is a disgrace."
Hāpai Te Hauora holds the national contract for the coordination of activities to prevent SUDI, Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy. Breastfeeding is one of the activities which helps to prevent SUDI, along with having a smokefree household and safe sleep practices. There are many positive health outcomes associated with breastfeeding including the reduction of risk for infectious disease and morbidity. From this standpoint, Hāpai believes it is vital that mothers are supported in all capacities to achieve the optimal health for their whānau and future generations.
The latest New Zealand research suggests that there a variety of factors which inhibit the ability for mothers to exclusively breastfeed for the recommended duration of six months. These include, but are not limited to employment conditions, access to health care, education and social support. While overall breastfeeding rates have improved in recent years, inequities persist across population groups.
To improve breastfeeding practices across all our communities requires supportive measures at all levels. This may look like a change in policy directives within organisations, or, as simple as permitting and supporting mothers to feed their child while using public transport.
"We offer our support to Auckland Transport as they take steps to ensure their staff and their subcontracted organisations appreciate the importance, and the legal right, of mothers being able to breastfeed."