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Breastfeeding in spotlight this week

Health Canada, the Canadian Pediatric Society, and World Health Organization (WHO) recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, with continued breastfeeding to two years and beyond.

Despite these recommendations, many women in Northern Ontario will initiate breastfeeding their newborn, with only 13 percent exclusively breastfeeding at six months.

Research shows that when women receive breastfeeding education and support before, during, and after pregnancy, many will make an informed decision to breastfeed, and will continue to breastfeed for as long as they had planned or until both mother and baby are ready to wean.

During World Breastfeeding Week 2010 (Oct. 1-7), the Northwestern Health Unit will be promoting the Seven Steps to Breastfeeding Success and the Baby-Friendly Initiative (BFI).

The BFI is an international initiative established by the WHO and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 1991 to help hospitals and community agencies work towards promoting, protecting, increasing initiation, and supporting continuation of breastfeeding.

The health unit is in its early stages in working towards achieving our Baby-Friendly designation.

Women are more likely to breastfeed when their health-care providers show support for breastfeeding.

Donna Mior, a public health nurse and lactation consultant, notes that through many of the health unit’s programs, “we provide anticipatory guidance to expectant women and their families in an effort to increase maternal confidence, enhance their breastfeeding experience, and reduce the risk of early weaning.”

A Baby-Friendly hospital or community agency must adhere to the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes.

The code includes 10 requirements, and advocates for the provision of safe and adequate nutrition for infants.

It empowers parents to make informed decisions about infant feeding without any commercial influence.

For more informational about the BFI, code, or breastfeeding supports, contact the Northwestern Health Unit at 1-800-465-4377 and ask a “Healthy Babies, Healthy Children” public health nurse.

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