Canterbury Breastfeeding Advocacy Service - Te Puawaitanga ki Ōtautahi


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Breastfeeding advocacy is about helping to remove the barriers to breastfeeding that families may experience in all kinds of spaces.

This can include working with workplaces, education providers, community organisations, shopping malls, libraries, swimming pools – anywhere that families spend time and have a right to be – to ensure these are spaces where breastfeeding can readily happen in. 

The Canterbury Breastfeeding Advocacy Service oversees a range of initiatives to influence such positive changes in our local community.

Helpful infosheets

Ūkaipō - Connection through breastfeeding

He pātai / Questions

Breastfeeding is important to different communities, different groups within communities, and different whānau, for different reasons. How we feed our babies is culturally important for many groups but can be challenging for many reasons. It is up to all of us to support and protect it for it to be a realistic option for families. By us all playing a part, we can take some of the pressure mothers and parents who want to breastfeed, which can increase their chance of it going well.

Whānau have shared with us that breastfeeding is important to them because:

  • It is important for their culture.
  • It is good for the planet.
  • It is “easy” (once it is established)
  • It is healthy for the māmā (decreases the chances of ovarian cancer, breast cancer, diabetes and heart disease).
  • It releases feel-good hormones in the māmā and pēpi.
  • It is healthy for pēpi (reduces the chances of asthma, diabetes, chest infections, ear infections, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), diarrhoea and vomiting)
  • It supports bonding and connection.
  • It is financially cheaper.
  • It is convenient.
  • It can support mental health (if it is going well).
  • It strengthens intergenerational connections.

It is also important that we acknowledge, support, and protect the needs of those who are unable to breastfeed, or who choose not to.

Many people find breastfeeding challenging for all kinds of reasons. Some of these reasons involve the breastfeeding māmā/parent or baby. However, many challenges are due to societies’ ideas, attitudes, and norms – especially those of western cultures. We can all play a part in reducing such challenges by being aware of them, supporting indigenous initiatives, and actively removing barriers where infant feeding might happen in our communities, whether they are structural, attitudinal, and/or cultural.

Breastfeeding/chestfeeding is challenging for some families due to:

  • the impacts of colonisation.
  • lack of appropriate public spaces.
  • lack of appropriate spaces and/or policies in workplaces.
  • attitudes and adverts that sexualise breasts.
  • lack of awareness of the importance of breastfeeding
  • lack of public exposure to breastfeeding (in campaigns, in schools, in public etc)
  • formula industry and marketing not being regulated through law (as recommended by the World Health Organisation)
  • lack of available professional support
  • lack of available social support
  • lack of awareness of about the amount of time and energy it takes to breastfeed
  • insensitive breastfeeding promotion
  • a lack of respect for caring work (paid and unpaid)
  • inadequate paid parental leave.
  • societal pressure to breastfeed.
  • unrealistic societal expectations of motherhood.
  • birth trauma.
  • unexpected birthing experience.
  • birth surgery.
  • culturally unsafe maternity care.
  • culturally unsafe maternity facilities.
  • endocrine disruptions (including stress, diabetes, PCOS etc.).
  • previous sexual abuse.
  • perinatal distress.
  • relationship challenges.
  • family violence.
  • drug or alcohol addiction or dependency.
  • breast anomalies (inverted nipples, under-developed glandular tissue)
  • breast surgery
  • mother’s/parent’s illness (pre-eclampsia, Covid, flu etc.)
  • stress
  • poverty
  • oral anomalies in the pēpi (high palate, weak suck etc.)
  • preterm baby.
  • unwell baby.
  • some newborn conditions.
  • breastfeeding conditions (engorgement, mastitis, breast abscess, nipple damage, DMER).
  • pressure to wean.
  • weaning.
  • pressure to return to paid work.

Kōrero Whāngai Ū

Local whānau share their breastfeeding journeys with us – their challenges, their successes, and where they found support. Their stories were shared with the community on social media and in physical and digital exhibitions alongside beautiful images by local photographer Liane Helena Photography.

Pārongo me ngā rauemi

Resources and information

Canterbury Breastfeeding Information A-Z

Breast Pump Hire in Christchurch

For Whānau

Breastfeeding Peer Counsellor Training

This 24 hour programme run over eight weekly three-hour sessions in a Zoom/Group combo (according to Covid-levels) to equip those of child-bearing age with some experience of breastfeeding to support others in the community. Register your interest here and we will be in touch about the next available programme.

For Health Professionals

Canterbury Breastfeeding Advocacy Service

Can tailor breastfeeding education to meet the needs of health practitioners or community groups. Contact Kelly.


LearnOnline – Code of Practice for Health Workers



Waitaha Primary Health

Can develop breastfeeding education sessions to cater for a range of audiences. Contact 0800 800 743.


Institute for the Advancement of Breastfeeding and Lactation Education (IABLE), American

Breastfeeding Education for Healthcare Providers

Physicians, physician-assistants, nurse practitioners, midwives and dentists who care for breastfeeding dyads often recognize the need for further training in breastfeeding medicine. IABLE has Several Educational Offerings for Physicians & Other Providers 1) The One Day Primary Care Breastfeeding Medicine Basics for Healthcare Providers – Live or Online IABLE’s one-day basic breastfeeding training for providers. For more information, visit The Institute for Breastfeeding and Lactation Education (IABLE).


Ara Institute of Canterbury

Human Lactation, Breastfeeding and Human Infant Nutrition postgraduate paper

Other Community Organisations and Businesses

Canterbury Breastfeeding Advocacy Service

Can tailor breastfeeding education to meet the needs of health practitioners or community groups. Contact Kelly.


Waitaha Primary Health

Can develop breastfeeding education sessions to cater for a range of audiences. Contact 0800 800 743.


Read about the latest Canterbury Breastfeeding Advocacy News on our Blog




Let's connect

Hei tautoko i a koe – we are here for you. If you would like to work with us, can’t find what you need, or need support please reach out.