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Story: Sophie Malcolm Photography: Bianca Mibus

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café helps give baby best start It’s Thursday morning and new mum Loree Miles is catching up with some friends for a coffee. A group of 10 or so women eat cupcakes while they chat, laugh and feed their babies. This is the Breastfeeding Café, a new initiative that aims to give mums an opportunity to catch up for a cuppa and company, while giving them the opportunity to access vital support and advice. Loree said she brought her ninemonth-old son Jack along to see what the café was all about. Loree said she thought the café, which is staffed by a maternal and child health nurse, was a ‘‘nice’’ way to support breastfeeding mums.

It’s the most rewarding thing I have ever done . . .

Loree Miles

‘‘It (breastfeeding) is challenging to start with – it was harder than I thought but it’s about sticking with it. ‘‘It’s the most rewarding thing I have ever done. It’s worth all the sleepless nights.’’ Greater Shepparton City Council launched the Breastfeeding Café at the end of August as part of its Best Start Early Years Plan. Maternal and child health team leader Chris Widdicombe said the percentage of babies who received some breast milk at the age of six months in the region was 37 per cent, compared to the Victorian average of 47 per cent.

‘‘What we find is a multitude of factors (for not breastfeeding) ... there might be difficulties with going back to work, or (mothers) really feeling like they don’t have enough support or are not aware of the benefits of breastfeeding.’’ Mrs Widdicombe said breastfeeding was ‘‘nutritionally perfect’’ for human babies’ growth and development, and had been known to promote various aspects of development, as well as reduce the likelihood of infants developing some infections and diseases. Best Start Early Years Partnership chairwoman and City of Greater Shepparton councillor Jenny Houlihan said the program aimed to give children the best possible start at life. ‘‘Breastfeeding can have its challenges, though. In those early days when you are sleep deprived and the baby is crying and won’t feed properly, not having the right support can threaten the breastfeeding relationship. ‘‘Whether it’s your first baby or your fourth, every child is different, and it can be hard to find advice that you can trust, and that you can access in an easy way.’’ The Breastfeeding Café is open every Thursday from 9.30 am to 11.30 am at Riverside Plaza Community Centre. Free coffee, tea and cake are provided.

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For more information, phone the Maternal and Child Health Service on 5832 9312. OCTOBER 2012 |

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