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- Health Unit Works to Promote, Protect and Support Breastfeeding Through the New Baby-Friendly Initiative -

A new initiative is underway to boost the number of local mothers who breastfeed by making this region a more ‘baby-friendly’ community.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is working towards this goal by strengthening its own programs and practices to better support breastfeeding. The Health Unit is also promoting the Baby-Friendly Initiative in Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes. Developed by the World Health Organization, the Baby-Friendly Initiative is designed to implement practices to promote, protect and support breastfeeding, as well as to ensure new mothers can make an informed decision about feeding their infants. The goal of the Baby Friendly Initiative is also to boost rates of breastfeeding worldwide and enhance the quality of care available to mothers and babies.

“Breastfeeding is important for babies, mothers, their families and the community,” says Tammy Thomson, a Family Health Nurse with the HKPR District Health Unit. “The Baby-Friendly Initiative is all about providing parents with the information they need to make the best choice for them about feeding their babies, and then supporting them in their decision.”

Breast milk is considered the best food for optimal infant growth. Research shows that breastfed babies have a reduced risk of childhood infections, chronic diseases and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, to name just a few. Breastfeeding is also important for mothers, as it reduces their risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and brittle bones in their later years. In Canada, it is recommended women exclusively breastfeed their infants for the first six months of life, and continue to breastfeed after the introduction of solid foods, for up to two years and beyond.

Approximately 90 per cent of mothers want to breastfeed, according to the Ontario Ministry Health and Long-Term Care. However, only 60 per cent will breastfeed when they leave the hospital after giving birth. By the time a baby is six months old, only 28 per cent of mothers are breastfeeding.

“Supporting parents to breastfeed makes a world of difference,” Thomson notes. “That is where the Baby Friendly Initiative can help. It provides a step-by-step guide on how health care providers can increase breastfeeding rates in our area.”

As part of the Baby-Friendly Initiative, many hospitals and community health agencies – including the Health Unit – are working towards earning their ‘BFI’ designation. The designation process is a detailed one that involves complying with guidelines and outcome indicators set out by the Breastfeeding Committee of Canada. The Health Unit already promotes the importance of breastfeeding by offering Preparation for Breastfeeding Classes throughout the year and through follow-up phone calls and home visits with new mothers. The Health Unit also offers Breastfeeding Clinics on an appointment basis to support women with questions or challenges, and provides a Family-Friendly room at each of its offices for women to breastfeed.

To learn more about the Baby-Friendly Initiative, or to find out about breastfeeding support services, contact the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577 or visit


For media inquiries, contact:

Tammy Thomson, Family Health Nurse, Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit, (613) 475-0933,

or Cindy Hutchinson, Family Health Nurse, Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit, (705) 324-3569.

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«February 2019»