Healthy Start: Breastfeeding Supports in Ontario
Building on the recommendations of the Healthy Kids Panel, Ontario newborns and their families will benefit from new breastfeeding supports. The panel's recommendations focus on three pillars:
- Start All Kids on the Path to Health
- Change the Food Environment
- Create Healthy Communities
In response, Ontario has a three pillar, cross-government strategy to promote the health of our children focusing on:
- Healthy Start - supporting healthy preconception, pregnancy and early years to build the foundation for a healthy childhood and beyond.
- Healthy Food - an essential component to achieving healthy weights and healthy childhood development.
- Healthy Active Communities - building healthy environments for children is the responsibility of the whole community.
New Investments in Breastfeeding Supports
To help babies get the best start in life, the government will establish the following new initiatives:
- Access to 24-hour expert support for mothers who are breastfeeding through a telephone advisory service, beginning in early 2014. This service will provide new mothers and families with confidential breastfeeding support, advice, and referrals from trained Registered Nurses. In addition, there will be additional "Lactation Experts" who will provide 24/7 support. The service will be provided in English and French with 24/7 access to telephone interpreters in more than 100 languages and a direct TTY number for those with hearing and speech difficulties.
- Training, tools, guidance and other resources to help Ontario hospitals, Community Health Centres, Family Health Teams, Public Health Units, Aboriginal Health Access Centres and Nurse Practitioner-led clinics achieve the World Health Organization's Baby-Friendly Initiative designation and adopt clinical best practices in infant feeding. The initiative is a world-renowned approach to promoting optimal infant feeding though a patient-centered model that addresses individual conditions and needs impacting new mothers and their babies.
- Targeted support for mothers who find it difficult to access breastfeeding services. The government will fund local community health organizations to develop and implement support programs focussed on reaching out to mothers in population groups that have lower rates of breastfeeding, such as women having their first baby, Aboriginal women, and women who plan to return to work within six months, among others.
- New resources through Best Start: Ontario's Maternal Newborn and Early Child Development Resource Centre. The centre develops educational resources and tools for families and health care providers to support mothers in breastfeeding. New resources will include:
- A guide for Aboriginal families and communities developed in consultation with Aboriginal communities.
- A manual to support hospitals and community health organizations to adopt and implement the Baby-Friendly Initiative.
Existing Supports for Breastfeeding in Ontario
Ontario offers a wide range of programs to support and encourage breastfeeding, including:
- 36 Public Health Units in Ontario that provide a wide range of breastfeeding supports across the province, including prenatal education and breastfeeding awareness activities to support groups for new moms and babies.
- The Ontario Midwifery Program that includes breastfeeding instruction and support for clients, as needed after birth until six weeks post-partum.
- Best Start: Ontario's Maternal Newborn and Early Child Development Resource Centre that supports health care organizations in Ontario to enhance the health of expectant and new parents, babies and young children and Breastfeeding Matters, a guide to breastfeeding for women and their families.
- The Rogers Hixon Ontario Human Milk Bank at Mt. Sinai Hospital. Opened in January 2013, in partnership with Mount Sinai Hospital, The Hospital for Sick Children and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, the milk bank provides donor breast milk to very low birth weight babies and some babies in level III neonatal intensive care units by physician prescription.
- Trained lactation consultants providing support for breastfeeding mothers across Ontario.