Breastfeeding – a natural bodily function for some and a public disturbance for others.
Over the summer, the provincial government provided additional support services for women who breastfeed, including a telephone support line along with many local support groups.
The Middlesex-London Health Unit began offering a breastfeeding peer support group earlier this year. It’s a safe space for mothers to share experiences and ask questions, facilitated by a public health nurse.
A nurse herself, Laura Duke, says the support group is needed to tackle the stigma against public breastfeeding.
“In this day and age, those opinions can be so easily and in an unfiltered way shared with so many people on social media,” she said. “Because we don’t see it a lot, we’re less familiar and sometimes that can affect the way some people reflect on it in public.”
Investing in breastfeeding supports is part of the governments Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care plan, which provides patients with faster access to the right care.
For Duke, the program goes beyond a social setting, but introduces a long term support system.
“What the evidence showed us was that a breastfeeding peer support group really did help women breastfeed longer and it helped them reach their breastfeeding goals,” she said.
The World Health Organization recommends infants be breastfed exclusively for the first six months of their lives.