National Breastfeeding Strategy for New Zealand Aotearoa | Rautaki Whakamana Whāngote

Published by the Ministry of Health, December 2020

The case for breastfeeding
Tūāhua mō te whāngote

Breastfeeding protects the health of children and whānau, as well as offering economic and environmental benefits (Victora et al 2016; Smith 2019; Walters et al 2019). Increasing breastfeeding rates positively contributes to performance against many systems level measures, in particular preventing ambulatory sensitive (avoidable) hospital admissions (ASH) in children aged 0–4. Breastfeeding is also key to achieving the sustainable development goals by 2030 (World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action 2016).

Look at ASH data on the Nationwide Service Framework Library website.

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Read more about the health, economic and environmental benefits of breastfeeding:

Breastfeeding in a national and global context
Whāngote ki Aotearoa, ki tāwāhi

Indigenous breastfeeding cultures in New Zealand Aotearoa and globally have been undermined by colonisation and other global economic and political influences. Breastfeeding has been identified as a human right, and efforts to improve breastfeeding exclusivity and duration are articulated through a global health equity lens.

Read more about the national context for breastfeeding:

Read more about the global context for breastfeeding:

Breastfeeding support services
Ratonga tautoko whāngote

In New Zealand Aotearoa, a wide range of supporters work collaboratively to assist whānau to achieve their breastfeeding goals and desired intentions. The acquisition of knowledge and skills, support by health care providers, and a parent’s self-efficacy and self-confidence in their ability to breastfeed are all important influences (Bartle and Harvey 2017; Wood et al 2016; Entwistle et al 2010). 

Read more about breastfeeding support services in New Zealand Aotearoa:

Structural influences and barriers
Awenga ā-pūnaha, taero ā-pūnaha

Infant feeding decisions are influenced by the society and environment in which parents and caregivers live, and the level of support they are able to access to achieve their breastfeeding goals (Rollins et al 2016). Rates of exclusive breastfeeding in New Zealand Aotearoa are influenced by a wide range of factors, including whānau and partner support, socioeconomics, social pressure, cultural influences, and mental health and wellbeing. The availability of support in various settings such as workplaces, education, health care and community spaces also plays an important role.

Read more about the structural influences on breastfeeding:

Breastfeeding policy and legislation in New Zealand
Herenga me ngā ture whāngote i Aotearoa

Globally, the right to breastfeed and to be breastfed is well-documented in international conventions and treaties related to health and human rights. In New Zealand Aotearoa, the legislative framework for protecting, supporting and promoting breastfeeding is covered in key pieces of policy and legislation designed to address the barriers to breastfeeding across infancy and early childhood. 

Read more about breastfeeding policy and legislation:


Bartle N, Harvey K. 2017. Explaining infant feeding: The role of previous personal and vicarious experience on attitudes, subjective norms, self-efficacy and breastfeeding outcomes. British Journal of Health Psychology. 763–785.

Entwistle F, Kendall S, Mead M. 2010. Breastfeeding support – the importance of self-efficacy for low income women. Maternal and Child Nutrition. 228–42.

Rollins N, Bhandari N, Hajeebhoy N, et al. 2016. Why invest, and what it will take to improve breastfeeding practices? The Lancet. 387(10017): 491–504.

Smith J. 2019. A commentary on the carbon footprint of milk formula: harms to planetary health and policy implications. International Breastfeeding Journal. 14:49. 

Victora C, Bahl R, Barros A, et al. 2016. Breastfeeding in the 21st century: Epidemiology, mechanisms and lifelong effect. The Lancet. 387(10017): 475–90.

World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action. 2016. Breastfeeding: A Key to Sustainable Development. URL:… (accessed 19 September 2020).

Walters D, Phan L, Mathisen R. 2019. The cost of not breastfeeding: Global results from a new tool. Health Policy and Planning. 34(6): 407–17. 

Wood N, Woods N, Blackburn S, et al. 2016. Interventions that enhance breastfeeding initiation, duration and exclusivity: A systematic review. The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing. 41(5): 299–307.

World Health Organization, United Nations Children’s Fund. 2014. Global nutrition targets 2025: Breastfeeding policy brief. Geneva: World Health Organization.