Happy National Breastfeeding Week, Canada!
October 1-7 has been a time for families, health care providers, and advocates to come together to celebrate the importance of breastfeeding*. As a nurse who advocates for moms and babies full-time, and as a mother of two small children, this is an extra special time for me. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to open this week with a warm welcome.
*Throughout this week, we use the term breastfeeding; some families may prefer to use the word nursing, chestfeeding, or human milk feeding.
Our baby-friendly pledge for all families
Northern Health (NH) is committed to supporting facilities and communities to adopt the Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) 10 Steps, a worldwide quality improvement framework developed by the World Health Organization (WHO). Based on the BFI, NH is putting steps in place to ensure that all families feel safe and confident feeding their babies.
- Step 1: Baby-friendly policy – We protect, promote, and support breastfeeding as the optimal way to feed babies. We also respect the feeding decisions of all families.
- Step 2: Staff education – Our staff is gaining knowledge and skills to support breastfeeding and other infant feeding methods.
- Step 3: Make a plan – During pregnancy, we can offer families information to help with decision making and planning for infant feeding.
- Step 4: Skin-to-skin – Regardless of feeding method, we support families to hold their babies skin-to-skin, immediately after birth, and ongoing. This is important for all babies.
- Step 5: Learn to breastfeeding – We help families learn how to breastfeed, and to feel confident feeding their babies, even during times when they are apart.
- Step 6: Breast milk for breastfed babies – When the goal is to breastfeed, we will help to give only breast milk, unless there are medical reasons for using formula. We will help families who use formula to do so safely.
- Step 7: Being together supports feeding – We will support parents to stay together with their babies, unless there is a medical reason for separation.
- Step 8: Responsive, cue-based feeding – We support families to feed their babies as often and for as long as they need, based on signs of hunger and fullness.
- Step 9: Bottles and soothers – We can support decision making about bottles and soothers, and caring for breastfed babies without these devices.
- Step 10: Community support – We can provide families with information about community supports that can help with infant feeding once they return home.
These steps are found on the NH poster Our baby-friendly pledge to families.
To learn more
As we celebrate breastfeeding this week, I invite you to check out the following resources:
- Breastfeeding webpage – Northern Health
- Breastfeeding support – HealthyFamilies BC
- Newborn care (resources for families) – Perinatal Services BC