Breastfeeding: making a difference

From April 26-28, Northern Health was pleased to offer the Fort St. James community a 20-hour course focused on breastfeeding.

  • May. 11, 2016 4:00 p.m.

Barbara Latkowski

Caledonia Courier

From April 26-28, Northern Health was pleased to offer the Fort St. James community a 20-hour course focused on breastfeeding.

The course was a multidisciplinary training opportunity that provided evidence-based research and implications for practice in the area of breastfeeding.

The goal of the three-day workshop was to promote an understanding of the importance of breastfeeding as primary healthcare, the benefits of human milk for human babies and focused on a collaborative problem solving approach to breastfeeding challenges.

Dawn Gaulthier, acute care nurse at Stuart Lake Hospital, along with Eunice Finch, a family nurse practitioner, facilitated the workshop.

“It is so important to stress the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding,” Gauthier said.

The course presented by Northern Health and the B.C. Perinatal Health Program, was open to anyone who provides services to mothers, babies and families during their perinatal period including doulas, midwives, nurses, early childhood educators and physicians.

“Everyone here deals with breastfeeding moms. It’s important to want to help and empower them,” Finch said.

Breastfeeding is an unequalled way of providing ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants; it is also an integral part of the reproductive process with important implications for the health of mothers.

Review of evidence has shown that, on a population basis, exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is the optimal way of feeding infants. Thereafter infants should receive complementary foods with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.

According the World Health Organization, breast milk is the natural first food for babies. It provides all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first months of life, and it continues to provide up to half or more of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of the first year, and up to one-third during the second year of life.

Breast milk promotes sensory and cognitive development and protects the infant against infectious and chronic diseases. Exclusive breastfeeding reduces infant mortality due to common childhood illnesses such as diarrhea or pneumonia, and helps for a quicker recovery during illness.

“Today, companies often push formulas on new mothers. It’s important that they know the benefits of breastfeeding for themselves and their babies,” Gauthier said.