Breastfeeding Promotion Network

OPHA’s Breastfeeding Promotion Workgroup, formed in 1993, recognizes the need to develop a province-wide strategy to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding as a means of improving health of children and their mothers.

Extensive research emphasizes the crucial role of breastfeeding in achieving optimal health outcomes. Since breast feeding initiation, duration and exclusivity rates continue to be lower than recommended, the advocacy efforts must continue.

The Mission/Mandate

  • To partner with other organizations, including BFI Ontario to advocate for a comprehensive breastfeeding strategy with Ontario.
  • To advocate for legislation that protects, promotes and supports breastfeeding and to provide input when policies or practices are being considered that effect women and children.
  • To enable health professionals to contribute to the protection, promotion and support of breast feeding through inclusion of consistent accurate breastfeeding information.
  • To advocate for the inclusion of accurate breastfeeding education within the curriculum of future Ontario health care providers.
  • To facilitate the inclusion of appropriate breastfeeding information and resources in the elementary and high-school curriculum.

Activities

  • Revisions to the document, Creating a Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace, were completed in 2008.
  • The workgroup’s Breastfeeding Position Paper (revised 2007) reflects current evidence-informed breastfeeding recommendations. The paper emphasizes the importance of upholding the principles of the Baby-Friendly Initiative which includes investing upstream, basing decisions on evidence and acting on the determinants of health as they relate to breastfeeding.
  • A position paper, Informed Decision Making and Infant Feeding (2014 revised), was developed and presented at OPHA’s 2007 Annual General Meeting. It highlights the importance of the need to include risks associated with artificial baby milk (ABM) when providing information about infant feeding.
  • A position paper presented to the OPHA Board in 2004, Balancing and Communicating Issues Related to Environmental Contaminants in Breastmilk, advocates that, while research has shown that a woman’s breastmilk may contain contaminants, women should in most cases continue to breastfeed, as in the vast majority of cases the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the associated risks.
  • The Workgroup continues to write advocacy letters supporting and promoting breastfeeding in Ontario.

Recent Accomplishments

  • A Decision Tree has been created to assist health care providers in assessing whether they are putting themselves or their organizations in a conflict of interest position that could undermine their commitment to upholding The International Code of the Marketing of Breast Milk
    Substitutes and subsequent World Health Assembly Resolutions (the Code).
  • The Breastfeeding Curriculum for Undergraduate Health Professionals was distributed in 2009 to postsecondary institutions to contribute to the consistency and accuracy of breast feeding information and training. The document provides learning modules which have information and resources to plan curriculum for undergraduate health care professionals.
  • A Breastfeeding Information and Activity Kit (also available in French) was developed and distributed in 2009 and is a resource for secondary school teachers to use as they create lesson plans which include promotion of breastfeeding. It would also be helpful for prenatal teachers. This will contribute to the creation of a culture where breastfeeding is the norm for infant and young child feeding.
  • Our position paper called The WHO Code and the Ethical Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes was approved by the OPHA Board in September 2010. This paper outlines how the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding can be enhanced by ensuring appropriate marketing and distribution of formula and related products in accordance with the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes (“the Code”) and subsequent WHA resolutions. Mothers must be enabled to make informed decisions about infant feeding free from commercial influence. This paper explores the roles of Public Health, health care facilities, and national legislation to ensure full implementation of the Code.
  • Ontario’s Public Health Standards now reflect the global recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding to six months, with the addition of nutrient-rich complementary foods thereafter and continued breastfeeding up to two years and beyond…
  • Informed decision-making regarding infant feeding is being recognized as a major contributing factor in achievement of optimal child health outcomes.

Events Calendar

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