Australian Breastfeeding Association

Australian Breastfeeding Association

The Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) is an Australian organisation of people interested in the promotion and protection of breastfeeding. Amongst these are breastfeeding women and their partners and health professionals such as doctors, lactation consultants and midwives. ABA was founded in Melbourne, Victoria in 1964 as the Nursing Mothers' Association, with the primary aim of giving mother-to-mother support to breastfeeding women. It is Australia's leading source of breastfeeding information and support.

The Association is supported by health authorities and specialists in infant and child health and nutrition, including a panel of distinguished honorary advisers. ABA is recognised internationally as a source of accurate information about breastfeeding management and research.


Mary Paton founded the Nursing Mothers' Association with five other mothers in Melbourne after having difficulty breastfeeding her first child. Doctors and nurses at the time were not trained to handle breastfeeding problems and with the modern nuclear family there were few older women to turn to for advice, so the founding members supported each other, thus creating the model for mother-to-mother support than continues today.

The other founders were Glenise Francis, Pat Patterson, Jan Barry (a member of the Coles family), Pauline Pick and Sue Woods.

In 1981 she received an Advance Australia Award and in 1993 was Family Circle magazine's 'Woman of the Year.' She was awarded an Order of the General Division of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 1978.

In 2001, NMAA changed its name to Australian Breastfeeding Association and Paton was included in the Victorian Honour Roll of Women as part of the Centenary of Federation's Ordinary Woman: Extraordinary lives.

In March 2004 Paton became an Australian Living Treasure. On the 2006 Australia Day Honours list Mary Paton OAM, was awarded the higher honour of Member (AM) in the general division - 'for service to the community as the founder of the Nursing Mothers' Association of Australia, and to the development of policies, protocols, management, support and training methods to assist nursing mothers and their babies.'


The ABA has groups across Australia which hold regular discussion meetings for mothers. Breastfeeding education seminars are run for expectant parents; community education continues through all levels of education from pre-school to tertiary and members visits mothers in hospital to introduce the association and its services. ABA also holds regular seminars and conferences for health professionals. Many groups hire out electric breast pumps. All meetings are run by trained volunteer breastfeeding counsellors, all of whom have successfully breastfed and have successfully completed an extensive training program.

On March 20th, 2009, a national breastfeeding helpline was launched to improve on the previous state-level helplines. This is a free service available to everyone. The helpline operates seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day on a roster system. Trained volunteers have undertaken the ABA breastfeeding counsellor training course to qualify, and have each breastfed at least one baby for at least nine months.

Email counselling is also available through their website. Subscribers receive a bi-monthly magazine, Essence, discounts on breastpump hire and through their retail arm "Mothers Direct" ( and many other benefits. The association publishes a variety of literature on breastfeeding, backed by a panel of distinguished advisers, and has a comprehensive website.

External links

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