Supporting A Mothers Right To Breastfeed

­( file photo by Matt Weverink)

The Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit is the first in Southwestern Ontario to complete the re-designation of the Baby Friendly Initiative.

Program Manager of Infant and Child Health Marnie Van Vlymen says the initiative focuses on supporting breastfeeding within the community.

“Our goal is to spread that message that breastfeeding is the natural, normal way to feed infants,” says Van Vlymen.

She says one of their roles is to raise awareness that a mother has the right to breastfeed their child anytime and any place. Van Vlymen adds that others are being criticized less when breastfeeding in public, compared to past years.

“[We] hope to continue to see decreasing rates of that kind of view that ‘it’s not okay,'” she says.

One of the ways the health unit will be raising community awareness is through public campaigns.

“World breastfeeding week is coming up on October 1,” says Van Vlymen. “So we do a lot of work within the community during that week.”

Re-designation of the Baby Friend Initiative is required every five years, where changes from prior years must be highlighted.

“We had to show improvements in our breastfeeding rates in the community over [the past] five years,” says Van Vlymen. “We [also] had to show that our interaction with moms is increasing.”

These interaction happens through communicating with new mothers in the hospital and supporting them whenever needed.

The CK Health Unit is also among the first five units in the province to be re-designated in this initiative.

Their next re-designation is scheduled for 2021.