Breastfeeding, one of the most human and natural things a mother can do for her baby, is incredibly important in keeping both the baby and the mother healthy.
So why then do so many mothers feel uncomfortable breastfeeding in public?
In 2012/2013, the Peterborough County-City Health Unit surveyed 200 mothers with six-month-old babies and found that nearly half the mothers felt uncomfortable breastfeeding in public.
In response to this survey, on Tuesday September 30, the Peterborough Breastfeeding Coalition and the Downtown Business Improvement Association launched their Breast Feeding Welcome Here campaign.
The Peterborough Breastfeeding Coalition is made up of Partners in Pregnancy, La Leche League, representatives from the health unit, Kawartha Community Midwives, Peterborough Family Resource Centre, Peterborough Regional Health Centre, local business, and of course breastfeeding mothers.
“We live in a hyper-sensualized world and breasts are seen as hyper-sensual. So when people see them feeding a baby, sometimes we don’t know how to respond to that,” says Dawn Hanes, chair of the Breastfeeding Coalition.
As mothers and other women gathered at Black Honey to enjoy tasty treats, Hanes talked about the importance of breastfeeding, and the significance of making breastfeeding mothers feel welcome in the community.
A window cling has been made up, by the coalition saying “Breastfeeding welcome here, anytime, anywhere”.
Local businesses are encouraged to put these clings up in their windows so mothers will feel welcome and comfortable to feed their babies wherever they are.
Babies who are breast-fed have a deceased risk of ear infections, respiratory infections, gastrointestinal infections; and these are just the short-term benefits.
Breastfeeding protects babies against type one and type two diabetes, and also lowers the risk of being overweight or obese as the child grows up.
As for the mothers, for every month that she breastfeeds, she decreases her risk of getting breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
Another plus for the mother is that breastfeeding helps her to return to her pre-baby body sooner; “a lot of women appreciate that,” jokes Hanes.
The recommendations that come from health Canada say that babies should breastfeed exclusively for the first six months.
“That’s all they need,” explains Hanes. “Any amount that a mother can do for her baby will be beneficial.”
Not only is breastfeeding incredibly healthy for the baby and the mother, it also ensures financial security.
Baby formula is incredibly expensive. Gerber Good Start, a baby formula created by Gerber baby food company, costs $15.92 at Walmart for one 360g can. Breast milk is free.
Mayor Daryl Bennett, in an address read by Otonabee Ward Councilor Leslie Parnell, said this about breastfeeding: “Breastfeeding women need the support of their community to breastfeed successfully. Therefore I [Daryl Bennett]…hereby proclaim the week of October 1-7, 2014 as World Breastfeeding Week in the city of Peterborough.”
There are so many ways to keep babies healthy, but it is clear that there is no better way than breastfeeding.
This is a call to local businesses, post it in your windows and let our mothers know that breastfeeding is welcome here!