Ont. urged to come up with breastfeeding strategy
Updated: Wed May. 12 2010 4:04:13 PM
The Canadian Press
TORONTO — New mothers in Ontario are inundated with baby formula by companies, which makes it even more difficult to convince women to continue to breastfeed their babies, advocacy groups said Wednesday.HERE to read the original CTV article
The Ontario Breastfeeding Committee, the Registered Nurses' Association, midwives and pediatricians want the Ontario government to develop a breastfeeding strategy for use in all hospitals.
They also want the province to stop companies from direct marketing formula to new moms as soon as they leave the hospital.
The Newman Breastfeeding Clinic, which has sites in Toronto and Aliston, Ont., sees thousands of new moms each year and is amazed at how many end up getting free formula sent to them, even when they haven't signed up for such products, said Edith Kernerman.
"We really wonder how they get those names," said Kernerman, who is also president of the Lactation Consultants Association of Ontario.
"They say 'I didn't sign up for anything, I don't know how I got it."'
New Democrat France Gelinas also wants to know how companies that make baby formula manage to get the names and addresses of new moms, and said the direct marketing to them should be stopped.
"Our health care system is not there to support the (mothers), but the formula companies are ready to push their products on new moms," said Gelinas.
"In the absence of regulations, new moms are being targeted by companies who are inundating them with these products."
Neither Health Minister Deb Matthews nor Health Promotion Minister Margarett Best could say how the companies manage to get the names of new moms. Matthews promised to look into it, but Best rejected the idea of a ban on direct marketing of formula to new mothers.
"I think people have the right to make decisions on their own, but I think it's important that they be able to make informed decisions," said Best.
"Breastfeeding is very important for infants' health and for mothers to bond with their children."
Progressive Conservative critic Lisa MacLeod said she finds the direct marketing of formula to new moms to be invasive.
"It's nice if you fill out a form to receive some products that you might want to try, but if these people are sending these things (unsolicited) ... we ought to find a way to prevent that from happening," said MacLeod.
Moms and breastfeeding
Studies show 97 per cent of new mothers want to breastfeed, but in Ontario only 60 per cent are still doing it a few days after the birth, and that number falls to just 15 per cent within six months, a figure Kernerman called appalling.
"Ontario hospitals are not doing enough to allow this process to happen naturally and easily," she said. "The learned part of this is not taught, so mothers are left literally scrambling."
Breastfeeding wasn't as easy as expected, said Courtney Fairbrother, a new mom who brought her infant daughter, Molly, to a news conference at the Ontario legislature.
"I thought it would be very natural and it wasn't really," said Fairbrother. "I definitely could have used more support in the days following Molly's birth. I can certainly see that you would definitely want to turn to something else."
The advocates admit formula can look like an easy alternative to moms who are struggling to breastfeed, but said there's a lot of evidence to show it is clearly not as good for the newborn baby as mother's milk.
They said new mothers are often given wrong information about breastfeeding by doctors and nurses, and complain many Ontario hospitals have closed their breastfeeding clinics.
Another article- from The Toronto Star on the same topic
As I just said in my previous article, until medical personnel- Doctors, Nurses, Midwives (yes, even midwives), are themselves properly trained to support women to initiate and continue breastfeeding, Breastfeeding support will continue to be found lacking. Right now, most childbirth professionals receive very little training in Breastfeeding and lactation management. Even Midwives receive only a couple of days of information on lactation during their studies- and even this small amount of education they receive may be flawed as training courses are not standardized.
As for Infant Formula companies that are targeting new mothers with their "free gifts" and samples of formula.... well, how about if the Ontario, or even better: the CANADIAN Government, institutes the WHO International Code of Marketing Breastmilk Subsititutes?!?
If our government actually followed the letter of the WHO Code, we wouldn't have to worry about these problems, because the formula companies would be greatly restricted from all of their unethical marketing ploys. Tell the Ontario and Canadian Governments to get off their butts and do something... do the RIGHT thing!!