KENTVILLE N.S. - To help recognize National Breastfeeding Week from Oct. 1 to 7, the Valley’s Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) is hosting two community playdates at both ends of the Valley.
The first event is on Sept. 30 in New Minas at the Cotton Tale Café from 1:30 to 3 p.m., and the second is slated for Oct. 6 from 1 to 2 p.m. at the Grant Potter Memorial playground in Annapolis Royal.
Admission is free as well as the coffee, tea, snacks and play.
The benefits of breastfeeding have long been established. Breastfeeding provides babies with the perfect nutrient supply, and a reduction of infections, and promotes healthy attachment and brain development, says the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA).
Further, it reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer and osteoporosis for breastfeeding mothers. NSHA also says breastfeeding is cheaper for families and family health improves with decreased hospitalization and illness because of it.
Breastfeeding also has less of an impact on the environment.
To help support maternal-child health for all mothers and babies, the international Baby-Friendly Initiative (BFI) was established by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, to promote, support, and protect breastfeeding worldwide in hospitals and in the community. The Annapolis Valley has such a chapter.
The Valley BFI has representation from Nova Scotia Health Authority Public Health, Valley Regional Hospital Maternal Child, La Leche League leaders, local doulas, a Glooscap First Nation certified health nurse, a staff member from the Department of Community Services, Kings County Family Resource Centre staff and local community members, explains committee members.
Another initiative of the Valley BFI is to celebrate the local businesses who continue to offer a welcoming and safe environment where parents feel supported to feed their children.
In particular, the Valley BFI highlights a few local businesses that have been recognized for going above and beyond creating a space where women feel safe or welcomed to breastfeed in public. When a business is baby friendly, this not only supports customers, but it creates a baby-friendly work place for staff and families.
Locally, these places include Lawtons in New Minas, where they took the lead on creating a baby-friendly space and approached NSHA for local resources and supports for young families. The Walmart Pharmacy made breastfeeding a priority when they encouraged and advised a breastfeeding mother how to safely take the prescribed medication while continuing to breastfeed their infant.
The Town of Kentville has created a baby-friendly space in Town Hall that includes signage and a comfortable space for feeding babies. There is also seating available in the warm room of the Kentville arena (along with change tables in both the male and female washrooms) for mothers who wish to breastfeed without freezing, but still want to watch the ice.
“Town Hall is a meeting and gathering place. We have attempted to make all feel welcome and safe in the environment,” says Mayor Sandra Snow.
Finally, T.A.N. Coffee in Wolfville welcomes and encourages mothers to feed their babies “anytime, anywhere” as their sign indicates.
“We want women to know that you can feed your baby anytime, anywhere and that they are supported under the Human Rights Act to do so,” says committee representatives.
Women have the right to breastfeed a child in public areas, including restaurants, retail stores and shopping centres, theatres, etc. Women shall not be prevented from nursing a child in a public area, nor asked to move to another area that is more discrete.
For more information about breastfeeding or maternal-child health, reach out to the health authority through the hospital or local health clinics.