La Leche League has supported tens of thousands of Kiwi mothers and babies, with volunteer leaders providing mother-to-mother support, education and information to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding.
COVID-19 has contributed to a drop in the number of leaders from 150 a decade ago to around 80, and La Leche League said the coffers were also empty with little government support.
Morrinsville’s mother Ella Moore said having access to help from La Leche executives got her through tough weeks with four-month-old Violet.
“It’s tough. It takes a village and yet we don’t have a village these days, so we need these things to continue.”
La Leche League NZ said they needed $150,000 a year to survive, they had only been operating on $18,000 a year for the past few years.
Last year, he claims to have obtained nothing from the government.
“I really fear that this is the end for us, that we’ve gotten to a point where there might not be a return without a really serious injection of cash,” Dockrill said.
“Te Whatu Ora – Health NZ have an opportunity ahead of them. They have a fresh start, we need to put resources into the early stages of a child’s life.”
Plunket, New Zealand’s biggest provider of Well Child, has also cut staff hours, sold assets and scrapped its popular parenting classes that cost $400,000 a year because they weren’t covered. by contract or government funding.
Outgoing CEO Amanda Malu said the organization needed to “sell the family silverware” and cut services.
“We needed that $400,000 to make sure we could maintain our basic nursing service in Plunket. It was impossible for us to do both,” she said.
“We’re not advocating for a bigger slice of the pie for Plunket at all – we’re advocating for a bigger slice of the pie.”
Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand said a new contract with increased funding from La Leche League was due to be released shortly.
In a statement, he said: “The health and well-being of our whānau, especially mothers raising young children, remains paramount. With health system reform, Te Aka Whai Ora and Te Whatu Ora will work together to strengthen services to women and their whanau.”
Te Whatu Ora said he is currently in negotiations with Whānau Āwhina Plunket and early childhood services for whānau and tamariki, including maternal mental health, are a priority for the government.
But Plunket and La Leche League NZ fear that without an appropriate injection of funds there will be a downstream impact on the mental health of young mothers in New Zealand.
“We work alongside lactation consultants and midwives if we’re not there there won’t be anyone to take over a system that’s already under pressure,” Dockrill said.