Analysis of breastfeeding policies and practices in childcare centres in Adelaide, South Australia
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Breastfeeding policies and practices were analysed in childcare settings in the metropolitan area of Adelaide, South Australia. Childcare centres were purposively selected based on their geographical location, type and socioeconomic score of the area. Qualitative inquiry approach was employed by undertaking interviews with childcare centres’ director or baby house coordinator to explore their perception towards breastfeeding practice and support within their centre. Breastfeeding related policy documents, where available, were also collected during the interviews to triangulate data. A total of 15 face-to-face interviews were conducted. Six childcare centres had a written policy specifically on breastfeeding support, although the technical issues of handling breastmilk were included in most centres’ food and nutrition guidelines. Most participants believed that decision to breastfeed is the personal choice of parents, and hence saw the childcare centre’s role as supporting parental choice whether it is breastfeeding or not. The provision of physical space to breastfeed and facilities to store the expressed breast milk were the most common practices in support of parents who had chosen to continue breastfeeding. Participants perceived mothers’ work-related issues such as distance from the centre, time, and unsupportive workplace the most important barriers that led to early introduction of bottle feeding or breastfeeding cessation. Most childcare centres support breastfeeding in a more passive than active way. Breastfeeding promotion needs to be an integral part of childcare centres training, policy and practice if an increased rate of breastfeeding is to be achieved particularly amongst working mothers.
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