by Hayley Bedford
The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) is a global network of individuals and organizations dedicated to the protection, promotion, and support of breastfeeding worldwide.
Every year, WABA coordinates and organizes the World Breastfeeding Week (WBW), which was celebrated last week between Aug 1-7.
This has been a particularly busy year, with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics taking place in the middle of a pandemic. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions surrounding this year’s games, several athletes, including Canada’s own basketball player, Kimberley Gaucher, were almost faced with a heart-breaking decision between representing their country, or staying home to nurse their child.
Fortunately, the Tokyo 2020 organizers realized that nursing babies could be accommodated and allowed athletes to bring their babies with them.
Unfortunately, closer to home, local mothers have their own Olympic style hurdles to jump in order to establish and continue breastfeeding.
Winchester Mom, Tina Ouellette, reached out to the Times to tell us of her experience here in North Dundas, and I fear her story is not uncommon.
Tina says that “breastfeeding resources are something many families will require access to and sadly, as new parents who struggled and needed support from our community, finding those resources was a daunting task that consumed so much time that would have been better spent resting and enjoying our new family”.
However, Tina did some research and found help from the Winchester chapter of the La Leche League (LLL). The League is a registered charity that provides mother-to-mother, parent-to-parent support for pregnant women, new parents, and families. It is an entirely voluntary organization comprised of parents who now wish to support others in their breast-feeding goals.
Tina’s experience with this group was very positive. The group leader even invited Tina and her baby to her home for one-on-one support.
Despite this, however, Tina was still struggling to feed her child and searched further for help. “After a painful and sleepless week with my new-born, a Facebook post I wrote in desperation resulted in finding a local certified lactation consultant and nurse who travels between hospitals. Bless her heart; for a modest fee, she came to see us in the middle of the night after her shift ended to support me through a desperate time and then came a few times afterwards. Half of those visits she wouldn’t accept payment for.”
But as Tina states, and as many of us have experienced, “In reality, there is no one coming to your aid at 3 a.m., when your lack of sleep, colic, and breast pain collide in epic fashion”.
There have been discussions with the Winchester Hospital about having a certified lactation consultant on staff for people requiring access, both in the maternity ward and after discharge, as well as providing access to families who need this assistance. But, unfortunately, International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) require extensive education, testing, and a mandatory 90 hours of in-person lactation mentorship before being accredited. There is no one more qualified to help with breastfeeding than this, but their services are hard to find, and for the most part private for-profit.
Thankfully, Tina did succeed and has managed to successfully feed her child beyond the recommended 6-month period; but as she says, “It shouldn’t have been that hard!”.
For more information on the Winchester-Kemptville Chapter of La Leche League, email: [email protected], or phone 613-774-3722, 613-774-2047 , or 613-258-4667.