Hello again! In this instalment of Public Health Matters, let’s talk about one of the great achievements of public health – healthier mothers and babies.
A century ago, mortality rates for moms and babies were much higher than they are today. Improved sanitation, nutrition and standard of living have all played a role, as have disease screening, prenatal counselling, immunization, breastfeeding and more.
Part of the Ontario Public Health Standards are the Family Health Program Standards, which includes Child Health. In following these standards, the Huron County Health Unit increases public awareness about breastfeeding, provides advice to new moms and links families to community programs. October 1 to 7 is National Breastfeeding Week so what better time to let you know how our family health team supports the baby-feeding journey.
Some of you may already know about the Baby-Friendly Initiative, or BFI. This is a global effort to perform best practices to protect, promote and support breastfeeding. The Health Unit as a whole fully endorses the BFI and shares best practices with the community.
BFI involves providing all families with accurate information about infant feeding. This way, families can make informed decisions without misinformation or the influence of formula companies. At the Health Unit, we share this information at our prenatal classes and parenting groups, and on our website and Facebook pages (Breastfeeding Connections and Parenting in Huron). Families receive the same information at their healthcare providers’ visits.
Health Canada recommends only breastmilk for the first six months. At six months, a baby is physically ready to receive iron-rich solid foods and to continue breastfeeding to two years and beyond.
A public health nurse on our Family Health team attempts to call any new mother in Huron County within 48 hours of hospital discharge. The nurse lets the new mom know about local services such as our Infant Feeding Clinics, our home visits, the MILKS peer support group and other services. Breastfeeding is a new skill for a mother to learn and we are there to help mothers succeed whether breast or formula feeding.
So let’s give thanks for all those moms and their healthy babies and on behalf of the Health Unit, I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!
For more information, please contact Sharon Brown, Executive Assistant, Huron County Health Unit, 519.482.3416 (toll-free 1.877.837.6143) ext. 2224 or firstname.lastname@example.org