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Hastings health unit wants to promote breastfeeding in public

Breastfeeding cut-outs [1]

Life-sized cut-outs of local moms naturally feeding their children are being used for the Breastfeeding in Public campaign. Photo courtesy of Hastings-Prince Edward Public Health

By Taylor Broderick [2]

BELLEVILLE – It’s the end of World Breastfeeding Week [3] and Hastings Prince Edward Public Health [4] is starting a breastfeeding in public campaign for the month of October.

Since this is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, public health officials want to promote the act of women breastfeeding in public.

Caitlyn Hanley, a health promoter for Hastings Prince Edward Public Health, says the campaign is all about trying to normalize the act of breastfeeding.

“When public breastfeeding becomes socially accepted you won’t have to look twice. The more you see something out in the community the more familiar people get with it,” she said.

The health unit is going all out this year for the promotion of breastfeeding. Its campaign features life-sized cardboard cut-outs of local moms breastfeeding their babies. Over 18 locations throughout the area, including the Belleville Community Health Centre [5], will showcase the cardboard cut-outs at some point in October.

Since breast milk contains the perfect balance of nutrients that your child needs to be healthy, Health Canada [6] recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of a baby’s life and continuing for up to two years with appropriate complementary feedings, Hanley said.

“Research indicates that breastfeeding is the healthiest choice as it promotes bonding between mother and baby. It protects the baby from infections and illness and promotes healthy brain development,” she said. 

“We’re just trying to promote breastfeeding as a whole and looking at it as a natural way of feeding your child.”

The positive response from the community and from local moms has been overwhelming, Hanley said.

Amanda Scales, who is also with the health unit, says many local organizations are supportive of the campaign and want to encourage women to breastfeed in public.

“Most mothers in our communities choose to breastfeed their babies and they have the right to breastfeed anywhere and anytime,” Scales said.

On the Facebook page Raising Healthy Kids [7], the health unit has posted a video of moms speaking about why they chose to breastfeed:

Many of the mothers say that breastfeeding is the healthiest option for their child.

“I know it’s the most beneficial,” one says.

“I believe it’s been the best start for (her son) and it was also an immediate bond for the both of us,” another commented.

Besides health reasons, mothers also say breastfeeding is beneficial because of its convenience.

“You don’t need to take bottles or have anything sterilized,” one says.

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health is hosting a free matinee showing of the documentary The Milky Way [8] at the Regent Theatre [9] in Picton on Nov. 4 to celebrate the campaign. Some of the mothers from the cut-outs will be there and anyone from the community who wants to participate or support the campaign is welcome to attend.