This week marks National Breastfeeding Week in Canada, an annual celebration observed from Oct.1 to 7 with an aim to raise awareness and celebrate the key role breastfeeding plays in the healthy growth and development of infants and young children.
This year’s theme is “Step Up For Breastfeeding – Educate and Support”. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit reminds our community that breastfeeding provides all the nutrients a baby needs for the first six months of their life and is recommended for two years and beyond by Health Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada, and the Canadian Paediatric Society.
Every year communities in Simcoe Muskoka welcome over 5000 new babies! Having a new baby is exciting and it is normal for new parents to need support and information about breastfeeding, sleep, baby care, parenting and normal growth and development. Family members and friends play an important role in supporting the breastfeeding needs of parents with a new infant. In addition, businesses and workplaces can play a role by making public spaces comfortable and supportive of breastfeeding. Along with this broad community support, professional supports are also available.
Anyone who has questions can connect with a public health nurse at the health unit’s Health Connection line, Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. by phone 1-877-721-7520 or by completing the online contact form. Nurses trained to provide breastfeeding support are also available through Telehealth Ontario, 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-866-797-0000.
Parents who are breastfeeding are also invited to attend the health unit’s Online Breastfeeding Groups held on Wednesdays from 10:30 a.m. – noon or 1 – 2:30 p.m. These virtual groups are led by public health nurses who offer support and answer questions about feeding your baby, baby care, infant sleep, developmental stages, and parenting. They’re also a great place to share experiences and get support from other new parents.
The Online Breastfeeding Groups are free, but parents do need to register to participate. To register, visit www.smdhu.org/OBG.