Photo: Businesses who support breastfeeding mothers in their establishments are encouraged to put this sticker in a window./Adam Reaburn
A Fort St. John group is pushing for community awareness and support of breastfeeding in public.
The Babies Best Chance group with the North Peace Community Resources Society has been approaching businesses around the city, discussing the benefits of breastfeeding.
There are several benefits to breastfeeding for both babies and mothers. The group outlines benefits for breastfeeding babies including a decrease in the risk of childhood and adolescent obesity, as well as a decrease in developing allergies or high cholesterol. The group says one benefit for breastfeeding mothers is a decreased risk of developing osteoporosis.
According to the World Health Organization, mothers should “breastfeed infants for the child’s first six months”, before adding in other foods. It also further recommends mothers continue to breastfeed babies until they are at least two years-old.
The group states that breastfeeding is normal and healthy. However, it has heard from mothers who have felt uncomfortable or have been given dirty looks while breastfeeding in public, says Andrea Jager, program co-ordinator with Babies Best Chance.
The group’s goal is for both residents and breastfeeding women to feel comfortable if a mother is breastfeeding in public, says Holly Christian, a population health dietician with Northern Health.
Christian says there are options for people who feel uncomfortable being near a breastfeeding mother.
However, Christian stresses that it is contrary to the Canadian Charter of Human Rights, as well as the B.C. Human Rights Code to ask a woman to move, cover up or stop breastfeeding in public.
Through its campaign, the group provides information for businesses and employees about how to approach customers who are uncomfortable with breastfeeding mothers.
Christian and Jager say the majority of the small businesses in the community have been favourable to supporting breastfeeding.
The group will be holding a peer-led support group for parents on Wednesdays at 10 a.m.at the North Peace Pregnancy Care Centre. Anyone interested in finding out more information about breastfeeding can visit the group’s Facebook page.