Healthier You Northern Health Spring 2016

Page 26

healthycommunities

BRINGING OUT THE BEST:

BREASTFEEDING, THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION AND QUESNEL By Theresa Healy

Healthy Community Development, Northern Health

Breastfeeding course participant Dawn Giesbrecht feeds baby Oliver.

THE BABY FRIENDLY ADVISORY COMMITTEE HAS GIVEN QUESNEL A STRONG GROUP OF BREASTFEEDING CHAMPIONS. THE PROJECT ALSO POINTS THE WAY TO SUCCESS.

necessary. In order to meet this goal, the Baby Friendly Advisory Committee felt it was important to engage the community to support breastfeeding mothers. So, in November 2015, they offered a three day training using the World Health Organization breastfeeding course – a required course for every maternity nurse.

Living in one of northern B.C.’s smaller communities, you may not expect to be able to access globallyrecognized, high quality training opportunities for free, right on your own doorstep. Yet this is exactly what a very successful initiative in Quesnel has been able to do.

The three day course was held at the Quesnel & District Child Development Centre – a child-friendly space. “The room had couches and tables and a kitchen for the participants – which included five breastfeeding moms as well as eight interested service providers,” says Bev Barr, Pregnancy Outreach Program Coordinator and BFAC co-chair, who was tasked with coordinating this initiative. “It was originally planned for April but we decided to postpone until November and commit to advertising and promotion.”

The Baby Friendly Advisory Committee (BFAC) worked to successfully increase rates of initiation for breastfeeding at GR Baker Memorial Hospital in Quesnel. They recently widened their focus to increasing breastfeeding duration support in the community. The benefits of breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of life are well researched, with numerous health benefits for mother and baby. The goal is to increase the number of babies who are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life (as recommended by Health Canada). Exclusive means that they receive nothing but breast milk until they are six months old (i.e., no solid foods, no water or breast milk substitutes) unless it is medically

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SPRING 2016

The group was determined to address potential barriers that are unique to breastfeeding moms. The final plan, in order to make the training accessible, included making the course free, choosing a location with free parking, making sure healthy lunches and refreshments were provided and – of most importance – ensuring child care arrangements for breastfeeding moms were in place. As a result, the final group included five breastfeeding moms among the attendees. “We all learned about breastfeeding while holding babies.”