NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR
While there may be more moms electing to breastfeed their newborn babies than in years past, there’s still work to be done to make the practice more commonplace.
That’s according to Melissa de Leon, Eastern Health regional lactation consultant. She joined council members, the local public health nurse and a few other guests for a proclamation signing at the Holyrood town hall for National Breastfeeding Week, which runs Oct. 1 to 7.
The theme for 2018 is ‘Breastfeeding: The Foundation of Life.’ Speaking in the council chambers on Oct. 2, de Leon said the theme is particularly relevant in Newfoundland and Labrador, as it represents a low-cost option for feeding babies and contributes to poverty reduction.
“In a world filled with inequality, crisis and poverty, breastfeeding is the foundation of lifelong good health for babies and mothers,” she said.
“The theme is a universal solution that levels the playing field, giving everyone a fair start in life. This theme encourages pregnant mothers and family members to think about how they will feed their babies, and it celebrates the increase in breastfeeding rates here in Newfoundland and Labrador.”
According to the Baby-Friendly Council of Newfoundland and Labrador, 74.4 per cent of women in the province initiated breastfeeding in the hospital following a baby’s birth. That figure was for 2016 and represented an 11.9 percentage-point increase over the same data for 2007.
“They are going up slowly but surely, but they are increasing,” said de Leon. “We need to create more chains of support for breastfeeding and lay the foundation for a healthier, more prosperous and sustainable future.”
In addition to providing nourishment in the early stages of a child’s life, breastfeeding also plays an important role in preventing problems such as diarrhea, pneumonia and ear infections, as well as preventing health conditions in the future such as, diabetes, bowel diseases and asthma.
De Leon added it takes a team of family members, friends, health-care providers and community members to make breastfeeding feasible. Knowing the journey towards breastfeeding is not always easy, de Leon said this team can contribute to making the experience a successful one.
Proclamation signings such as the one in Holyrood give visibility to the issue de Leon said, adding towns can also help the cause by creating more breastfeeding-friendly spaces for residents.