Healthy Living in the North

Growing breastfeeding-friendly communities: you can help!

breastfeeding mom on picnic bench

Nursing mothers have the right to breastfeed their children in a public area.

As a breastfeeding mother, I have received support from friends, family, health professionals, and community members. This was true in the early days, as my baby and I were getting the hang of breastfeeding, and it is still true today as I continue to nurse my toddler. While I have generally felt supported, I also know that mothers can face challenges when breastfeeding.

Promoting, protecting, and supporting breastfeeding is a responsibility shared by families, communities, health regions and policy makers. This means supporting individual mothers, as well as growing breastfeeding-friendly communities.

breastfeeding mom in barber shop

Is your business breastfeeding friendly?

A challenge a woman should not have to face is a lack of knowledge about her right to breastfeed. Did you know that women’s right to breastfeed is protected by law in British Columbia? As per B.C.’s Ministry of Justice:

  • Nursing mothers have the right to breastfeed their children in a public area
  • It is discriminatory to ask a mother to cover up or breastfeed somewhere else

Women’s right to breastfeed is not new, but it may not be common knowledge. A little education and respectful conversation can go a long way.

Are you wondering what you or your business can do to make northern communities breastfeeding friendly and safe?

Consider ordering a free breastfeeding decal from Northern Health! The “Growing for Gold” decal can be placed on a glass door or window to show a welcoming attitude and support for breastfeeding moms and babies. The decal also comes with helpful information that you can share with staff or clients/customers, including:

  • “All women have a right to breastfeed. Anytime. Anywhere.”
  • Tips for creating breastfeeding-friendly spaces
  • Responding to a family’s request for a more comfortable or private location
  • Managing customers who may express negative feelings towards public breastfeeding

    Growing for Gold Breastfeeding Friendly decal

    The Growing for Gold decal on your business window shares your support and welcome to breastfeeding moms and babies.

When you order a decal, your business/facility will be added to the list of Breastfeeding Friendly Places on the Growing for Gold website (join the recently signed up Telkwa General Store & Café and other northern B.C. businesses who have shown their support by requesting a decal!).

A decal is a small thing, but it sends an important message and supports a valuable conversation. Help us to grow breastfeeding-friendly communities across the north!

Lise Luppens

About Lise Luppens

Lise started her career as a dietitian with Northern Health in 2004 when she moved to Terrace "for a year." More than 10 years later, she is now part of the regional population health registered dietitian team and she continues to love living, working and playing in B.C.'s northwest. Lise enjoys playing outside with her husband and friends and you might find her skiing, biking or kiting. She’s passionate about local food, keeps a garden, enjoys local community-supported agriculture (CSA) and farmers market goodies, and carries out food preservation projects.

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Bonding with your baby

Father and daughter

“Well-loved babies do better in every way.” How can you spend time bonding with your baby?

Have you ever been told that carrying or holding your baby too much will spoil them? This is a common myth held by many parents and caregivers. In fact, the opposite is true!

Research has shown that well-loved babies do better in every way. The first six months are an important time for you and your baby. Take time to give love, hugs, smiles and lots of reassurance. Emotional attachment is one of the keys to raising a happy, confident child.

The BC Healthy Child Development Alliance has some simple steps you can take to help ensure a good, close connection with your baby:

Spend time face-to-face with your baby.

  • Take time each day to cuddle and play with your baby up close.
  • Spend time watching what your baby does and responding to facial expressions and sounds by imitating them.
  • Talk to your baby. Research shows that the more words a baby hears each day, the better they learn.

Observe your baby.

Watch and listen to your baby to learn what your baby wants or needs. Here are some cues to what your baby is “saying” to you:

  • Turns away, does not want eye contact: “I need rest.”
  • Frowns, starts to cry, pulls away: “I am upset, lonely, sick or hurt.”
  • Cries, has wide open eyes, stiffens body, arches spine or turns away from you: “I am in distress, upset or afraid.”
  • Reaches for you, follows you (if a walking toddler), face has a sad look – maybe a trembling lip: “I need you.”
  • Smiles, giggles, gazes at you, reaches for you, makes cooing sounds: “I like that.”

Notice the cues that say “distress.”

  • Babies who are in distress and whose parents respond promptly (within 1-2 minutes) cry less after the first year.
  • Babies beyond four months old can handle short periods of mild distress; giving them a chance to calm themselves helps them to learn new skills and to sleep longer periods at night.

Delight in your baby.

  • Help your baby explore and play by finding ways to play together (e.g., stacking cups or playing with blocks or stuffed toys).
  • Welcome your baby when he or she needs to cuddle or comes to you for comfort.

Get down on the floor with your baby.

  • Every baby needs “tummy time” on a mat or blanket set on the floor. This is a time when your baby will exercise muscles or discover new ways to move.
  • Spend time watching what your baby does and respond to your baby’s cues.

For more information and to learn more ways to build attachment and help your child adjust to their emotions, visit:


This article was originally published in Healthier You magazine. Read the full Summer 2016 issue all about healthy children below!

Vanessa Salmons

About Vanessa Salmons

Vanessa is a registered nurse and Northern Health’s Early Childhood Development lead for preventive public health. Located in Quesnel, Vanessa supports prenatal, postpartum and family health services across the north. She is married with two children and is always busy with the family’s many activities. Work/life balance is important to Vanessa. When she is not at work, she enjoys spending time with family and friends entertaining and cooking. Vanessa stays active through walking or running with her dog Maggie, spinning and circuit training. A good game of golf or a good book is always a bonus!

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World Breastfeeding Week

A mother breastfeeds her son.

World Breastfeeding Week (October 1-7, 2014) promotes the benefits of breastfeeding.

The slogan and theme for World Breastfeeding Week 2014 is “Breastfeeding: A Winning Goal – For Life!”

World Breastfeeding Week will run from October 1-7, 2014 to recognize the importance of breastfeeding and promote the benefits of breastfeeding for mothers and babies, as well as its social and environmental benefits. This year’s World Breastfeeding Week theme asserts the importance of increasing and sustaining the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding: it is a vial Life-Saving Goal!

Breastfeeding is not always easy, but, with the right support, most women can have a successful experience. There are many breastfeeding supports and resources available to women and families. For instance:

To kick off the festivities in Prince George, breastfeeding families are invited to celebrate the 14th Annual Prince George Breastfeeding Challenge on October 4, 2014. The event is held annually around the world in hopes of setting a new international record for the most breastfeeding babies at one time. In Prince George, the event will be held in the main floor’s Auditorium in the Northern Interior Health Unit at 1444 Edmonton St. There will also be a second site this year at The Kids Good as New Sale in the Diocese Centre (Old O’Grady High School) at 6500 Southridge Ave. Registration begins at 10 a.m. with official latch-on time starting promptly at 11 a.m. The entire family is encouraged to attend this free, fun-filled event. Refreshments and cake will be provided.

Laura Ravlic

About Laura Ravlic

Laura is a public health nurse who works for the children and families Team in Prince George, BC. She has three energetic boys who keep her busy out in the community with their many activities, including bike riding, class outings and soccer, for which she is an assistant coach. She is also involved in the Baby Friendly Initiative which promotes a breastfeeding friendly environment.

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Healthy Living in the north starts with our children

Mother and baby

There are a lot of great benefits, for both mother and baby, when it comes to breastfeeding. What’s your positive experience with breastfeeding? (Photo by www.ericscottphotography.com)

As parents, we always want to do the best for our children, and if it’s an option, why not breastfeed?! I found breastfeeding created a special bond with each of my babies; all three loved to breastfeed around the clock. Although this was tiring, I look back at it now and realize that I got to spend quality time with each of my boys at a young age, knowing that I was promoting health and well-being, and in the end, creating the foundations of a healthy lifestyle to live by for each of them.

Why is breastfeeding important? Breastfeeding is just as important as handwashing, healthy eating and is great for the environment; breastfeeding – no garbage, no pollution and an attractive recyclable container! The Baby Friendly Initiative is a global effort for improving the role of maternity services to enable mothers to breastfeed babies for the best start in life. It aims at improving the care of pregnant women, mothers and newborns at health facilities that provide maternity services for protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding, in accordance with the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk substitutes. The Breastfeeding Initiative is a great support to moms for breastfeeding within the north. In 2013 the theme for World Breastfeeding Week is Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers, with the goal of highlighting the importance of providing support to breastfeeding families.

World Breastfeeding Week will run from October 1-7, 2013, to recognize the importance of breastfeeding, promote the benefits of breastfeeding for mothers and babies, as well as social and environmental benefits.

To kick off the festivities in Prince George, breastfeeding families are invited to celebrate the 13th Annual Prince George Breastfeeding Challenge on Saturday, October 5/2013.  The event is held annually around the world in hopes of setting a new international record for the most breastfeeding babies at one time. It also provides the opportunity to recognize the special bond of breastfeeding between mother and baby. The event will be held in the Keith Gordon Room at the Bob Harkins branch of the Prince George Public Library. Registration begins at 10 a.m. with official latch-on time starting promptly at 11 a.m. The entire family is encouraged to attend this free, fun-filled event. The Quintessence Foundation, a non-profit group providing education to parents and professionals about breastfeeding and human milk banking, sponsors the Breastfeeding Challenge.

“Despite most mothers wanting to breastfeed, many are met with complex barriers that keep them from achieving their personal breastfeeding goals. Support and encouragement from all angles can make success possible for mothers who wish to breastfeed.” (WABA, 2013).

Laura Ravlic

About Laura Ravlic

Laura is a public health nurse who works for the children and families Team in Prince George, BC. She has three energetic boys who keep her busy out in the community with their many activities, including bike riding, class outings and soccer, for which she is an assistant coach. She is also involved in the Baby Friendly Initiative which promotes a breastfeeding friendly environment.

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Breastfeeding: Local eating for babies

Mother and baby

There are a lot of great benefits, for both mother and baby, when it comes to breastfeeding. What’s your positive experience with breastfeeding? (Photo by www.ericscottphotography.com)

This week (October 1-7) is Breastfeeding Awareness Week, and as a public health nurse, it really gets me thinking about all the amazing benefits of breastfeeding. We learned about some in a post from a fellow public health nurse last week.

I breastfed my son for 13 months and it was a positive experience for our family. The convenience, the financial savings and health benefits made it a great fit for us, and I always found co-workers and even strangers were so supportive, no matter where I went.

Recently, I attended a breastfeeding education session and learned “new to me” information about breastfeeding. One thing that stood out for me was “baby led breastfeeding.”  Babies are really smart about breastfeeding, and are much more involved in the process than I had realized. A really good example of this can be seen in a YouTube video called “Breast Crawl – Initiation of Breastfeeding.”

It was also interesting to me to think of breastfeeding from a wider perspective. During natural disasters, such as the tsunami that struck Japan in 2011, breastfed babies were among few who had food security. Breastfeeding is the locavore diet for babies!!

How about you? What is your positive experience or interesting fact about breastfeeding? Please share below!

If you’d like more information on the benefits of breastfeeding and links to other great resources, visit our breastfeeding webpage!

Jennifer Miller

About Jennifer Miller

Jennifer Miller is a public health nurse in the Burns Lake Public Health office. She has been a registered nurse since 1986 and has worked for Northern Health since 1991. Since moving to Burns Lake in 1991, Jennifer has had the opportunity to experience a number of different rural nursing roles. When not at work, Jennifer can be found busy with her family, her medieval recreation group, or working on a variety of artisan projects, such as spinning.

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It’s World Breastfeeding Week next week: Let’s talk about the benefits

Baby

This year’s World Breastfeeding Week theme is “the road to lifelong health begins with breastfeeding!”

World Breastfeeding Week will run from October 1-7, 2012, to recognize the importance of breastfeeding, promote the benefits of breastfeeding for mothers and babies, as well as social and environmental benefits.

As parents, we always want to do the best for our children, and if it’s an option, why not breastfeed?! I found breastfeeding created a special bond with each of my babies; all three loved to breastfeed around the clock. Although this was tiring, I look back at it now and realize that I got to spend quality time with each of my boys at a young age, knowing that I was promoting health and well-being, and in the end, creating the foundations of a healthy lifestyle to live by for each of them.

Did you know that you can protect the health of our planet by helping mothers to breastfeed? The International Lactation Consultant Association’s (ILCA) motto is the Road to Lifelong Health Begins with Breastfeeding and go green!  Producing infant formula has a devastating impact on the environment:

  • If the 550 million cans of infant formula sold annually just in the United States alone were stacked end to end, they would circle the earth 1-1/2 times, leaving 86,000 tons of metal and 1,230 tons of paper labels. (sourced from www.ILCA.org)
  • Approximately 10,000 square meters of land is required for every cow used in the production of milk to be used in infant formula. (sourced from www.ILCA.org)

Breastfeeding has numerous benefits which cannot be duplicated in any other form of feeding:

  • It has hundreds of antibodies, enzymes and other factors that protect your baby from infections and diseases.
  • Breast milk is easy for your baby to digest.
  • It’s always at the right temperature.
  • It’s easy to provide.
  • It’s always handy and changes as your baby grows.
  • It’s free.

In fact, infants who are not breastfeed are at increased risk of developing:

  • ear infections
  • childhood obesity
  • type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • (SIDS) sudden infant death syndrome
  •  asthma and many other acute and chronic illnesses

In addition, mothers who breastfeed are at decreased risk for breast and ovarian cancers, and osteoporosis. It also helps mothers’ return to their pre-pregnancy weight faster.

This year, the theme of World Breastfeeding Week is The Road to Lifelong Health Begins with Breastfeeding. To kick off the festivities in Prince George, breastfeeding families are invited to celebrate the 12th Annual Prince George Breastfeeding Challenge on Saturday, September 29, 2012 at 10 a.m.  The event is held annually around the world in hopes of setting a new international record for the most breastfeeding babies at one time. It also provides the opportunity to recognize the special bond of breastfeeding between mother and baby. The event will be held in the Keith Gordon Room at the Bob Harkins branch of the Prince George Public Library. Registration begins at 10 a.m. with official latch-on time starting promptly at 11 a.m. The entire family is encouraged to attend this free, fun-filled event.

We are also hosting a booth at Pine Centre Mall on October 5, to end World Breastfeeding Week, and to share information about breastfeeding and services available to mothers.

For more information on breastfeeding,visit the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada or the BC Baby Friendly Network.

Laura Ravlic

About Laura Ravlic

Laura is a public health nurse who works for the children and families Team in Prince George, BC. She has three energetic boys who keep her busy out in the community with their many activities, including bike riding, class outings and soccer, for which she is an assistant coach. She is also involved in the Baby Friendly Initiative which promotes a breastfeeding friendly environment.

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