Posted by: Jennifer | November 12, 2008

Great Website – Great Cause!

I just found a fantastic website called Natural Mothering Canada.  This fantastic website has some great information and I highly recommend that you check it out.

One thing caught my eye and it is an article called Breastfeeding in Canada:  A Call to our Government.

Breastfeeding in Canada: a Call to our Government

“Breast is Best.”

That’s what they tell us. And yet what is our government doing to support breastfeeding women in our country?

Right now in Toronto, The Newman Breastfeeding Clinic & Institute, considered a world leader in breastfeeding education and support, is pleading for donations. Because with out new funding, the Clinic is in serious danger of closing down.

The Newman Breastfeeding Clinic lost all Government funding in 2005, and since then has relied on the sole support of a private donor. That funding has now come to an end.

Right now the Clinic helps over 2500 mothers every year, and is place of last resort for mothers who aren’t able to find help from other clinics or from private lactation consultants, doctors, or public health nurses.

and so to repeat: what is our government doing to provide the best start in life to it’s newest citizens?

Many families have written to their provincial Ministry of Health, asking for funding and better breastfeeding support. The replies to these outcries is a form letter full of empty words and typical governmentese platitudes about how they are “Exploring how to integrate breastfeeding approaches into a comprehensive continuum initiatives into maternal and pediatric health….”

It means nothing. And they are doing nothing.

Now it’s time to change this.

We have written a letter to the Government of Ontario telling them that their so called “support” is seriously lacking and asking them what initiatives are being developed by the Ministry of Health to address breastfeeding support and education and also, the time lines for those initiatives to be implemented.

We are asking that everyone please send a copy of this letter to their local MP, and to the Minister of Health of their province. Please forward a copy to my email address, as we are hoping to present a collection of all of the letters to the government in person.

dani@naturalmothering.ca This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
or
helen@naturalmothering.ca This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

And if you are one of the many many women in Canada who struggled to breastfeed and couldn’t find the support or information or the help you needed, please tell your story- tell your MPP and Minister of Health about how the system failed you!!

So please spread the word far and wide!!! Ask your friends and family to speak out!

We are also at this moment in the process of organizing a Rally at Queen’s Park in Toronto. As soon as we have the details, we will post it here.

Find a copy of the letter on the next page ->

Dear Sir/Madam

As World Breastfeeding Week has come to an end, I am left wondering “What did our government do to promote breastfeeding this year?” Sadly there has been nothing done. I would like to focus our governments attention on the health of our children and the policies that are needed to insure that they are receiving the best possible start in life.

We know that “Breast is Best”. We know that Babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their life and that breastfeeding should continue for up to 2 years and beyond. We know that breastfed babies have a significantly lower risk of many major health problems. A more important consideration however, is that formula fed babies have a much higher risk of asthma, diabetes, gastrointestinal issues, obesity and ear infections. All of which lead to increased emergency room visits and hospitalization, adding unnecessary costs to our already strained provincial health care system. It is also important to remember that women who have breastfed have a reduced risk of ovarian and cervical cancer, osteoporosis, post-partum depression. The longer a woman breastfeeds in her life, the lower her risk of breast cancer. One study in Iceland suggests a 50% decrease if the mother breastfeeds 2 years or more.

We know these things. So why are more Canadian mothers not breastfeeding their babies?

At this moment breastfeeding support is provided at many hospitals which are funded by the Local Health Integration Networks. The government promotes breastfeeding through the Healthy Babies, Healthy Children program and through the Public Health Mandatory Health Programs.

On paper this may seem like enough support, enough funding. But obviously it is not when the following statistics are considered.

The latest facts tell us that 90% of mothers in Toronto initiate breastfeeding in the hospital at birth. However, after they are discharged, these number fall drastically. Many stop breastfeeding in the first month, and by six months of age, the number plummets to only 17% . The reason is simple : they do not have the support they need to properly initiate breastfeeding, to insure that they continue to nurse effectively, or to aid them in overcoming the problems and issues they may encounter.

At this moment there are only 9 hospitals in Canada which have achieved the WHO/UNICEF “Baby Friendly” Status. There is not enough education about breastfeeding within the Canadian medical community. Women should be learning about breastfeeding and receiving support from the medical professionals they are closely in contact with, ie their obstetricians & midwives, maternity care nurses and public health nurses. In order for them to be able to provide effective support and information, those professionals need to first have access to the information themselves. New mothers regularly receive conflicting information from the very professionals on whom they rely to aid them in establishing breastfeeding. I believe that our government needs to encourage all Canadian hospitals to attain “Baby Friendly” Status. In so doing , medical personnel within our hospitals and out in our communities, need to be further educated on the support that new mothers require to initiate and continue breastfeeding successfully. They need to be educated on the latest information and studies regarding breastfeeding and infant health. This would also be achieved by educating and employing more Lactation Consultants (IBCLC)

I realize that both the MOHLTC and MHP are continuing to collaborate on issues concerning maternal and infant health, including breastfeeding and that the staff are exploring how to integrate breastfeeding approaches into a comprehensive continuum of initiatives on prenatal, maternal and paediatric health. I would like to know exactly HOW they are approaching these initiatives, what initiatives are being developed by MOH to address breastfeeding support and education and also, the time lines for those initiatives to be implemented.

Please look through this fantastic website and help out with this great cause if you are able!

I would like to call upon you, our elected government officials, to move forward and initiate new policies with regards to providing the necessary support to breastfeeding women in Ontario. The support that is in place right now is obviously lacking and without new policies and new funding, Canadian infants will not receive the support they need for the best possible start in life.

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