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News Release

Breastfeeding awareness campaign features local women - Barrie

Sep 30, 2015
BARRIE – A series of life-sized photographic cutouts of local women breastfeeding their children is the basis for a campaign reminding the public that parents need support and encouragement to breastfeed anytime and anywhere, whenever their child needs them.

BARRIEA series of life-sized photographic cutouts of local women breastfeeding their children is the basis for a campaign reminding the public that parents need support and encouragement to breastfeed anytime and anywhere, whenever their child needs them.

You might assume that in a society that supports a woman’s decision to breastfeed that nursing your child in public is accepted and easy, but unfortunately this is still not always the case,” said Natalie Riewe, manager of the child health program at the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU). “Being able to breastfeed whenever and wherever a child is hungry or needs comfort is critical to breastfeeding success; breastfeeding parents need reassurance that they are welcome to do so.

“Something as simple as a smile or a positive comment can make all the difference.”  

Four women from the region participated as breastfeeding champions for the project, which aims to create awareness in the public and encourage business, community and municipal organizations to create supportive environments for breastfeeding parents. The health unit has created a step by step guide to help businesses and municipalities become a breastfeeding friendly place, as well as signage that indicates they openly welcome breastfeeding.

The YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka has always fully supported a women's right to breastfeed in public. The YMCA environment “is one of inclusiveness and it is important for us to empower women to breastfeed where they are comfortable and when the baby needs to be fed,” said general manager Dale Rowe. “The YMCA has a rich history of supporting families in our communities and it is great to see Mom's and their babies interacting at the YMCA.”

Almost 5,000 babies are born in Simcoe Muskoka every year; however, one in four people in Simcoe Muskoka still say it is not acceptable for a parent to breastfeed at a restaurant or mall.

Brandi Stevenson, one of the local breastfeeding champions, said that learning to breastfeed was hard at first and nursing in public was initially “daunting”. However, the “friendly faces and locations in my community that offered support and encouragement helped enormously”, and now she in turn tries to offer the same reassurance to fellow breastfeeding mothers. 

To request “breastfeeding is welcome” signage or other resources or for assistance in becoming a breastfeeding friendly place, call Health Connection at 1-877-721-7520 or see www.simcoemuskokahealth.org. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Ontario Human Rights Code protects the right of parents to breastfeed anytime, anywhere.

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The following events are occurring in Barrie to celebrate National Breastfeeding Week, Oct. 1-7, 2015.

BARRIE

Sep. 30, 3 p.m. - Breastfeeding Flag raising ceremony and proclamation of National Breastfeeding Week, Barrie City Hall.

Oct. 1, 7 p.m. - Screening of “Milk”*, Rowntree Theatre, Georgian College, 1 Georgian Drive, Building H, Rm 106. Parking $2.

Oct. 3, 11 a.m. – Breastfeeding Challenge Latch-on, East Bayfield Community Centre, 80 Livingstone Street East.

 

*The film Milk brings a universal perspective on the politics, commercialization and controversies surrounding birth and infant feeding.

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