Together we’re growing a Baby-Friendly Ontario

By Linda Young, Director Maternal Newborn & Child and Baby-Friendly Initiative Lead

A few months ago, I was in Red Lake Ontario. I bet you’re scratching your head wondering where that is.
With a population of roughly 4,300 people, Red Lake is just a smidgen of a town about 530 km northwest Thunder Bay.
What was I doing?
I was in Red Lake running our eighteenth Baby-Friendly Implementation workshop. And I remember stopping at the most northern traffic light reflecting on how proud I was. Here I was in a small remote northern Ontario town promoting global, evidence-based practices around breastfeeding.
Did you know that you work in only one of three Baby-Friendly designated hospitals in Ontario?
The Baby-Friendly Initiative is a World Health Organization best practice that has been proven to increase breastfeeding rates and in turn, improve the health of our population.
Getting this designation was no easy feat.
We had to develop new policies, educate staff on breastfeeding and implement practices to better support new families. We’ve partnered with community partners including Public Health to increase consistency of messaging and normalize breastfeeding in our community.
We’re so proud of this work!
To add more icing to the cake, we’ve also received funding from the province to share our knowledge and teach other hospitals and community health services across Ontario to become Baby-Friendly.
In total, we are supporting over 370 organizations across Ontario!
We have called it the BFI Strategy for Ontario, and we’re working in partnership with the Provincial Council for Maternal and Child Health and the Best Start Resource Centre at Health Nexus.
To date, we’ve criss-crossed the province on planes, trains and automobiles delivering workshops, like the one in Red Lake, to over 25 communities and hundreds of health care providers. We have also presented our work to a provincial Think Tank held by Perinatal Services in British Columbia.
This past week we celebrated World Breastfeeding Week in Canada and we organized our first cross-country Tweet chat #babyfriendlychat. It was a great success and we engaged with 65 people across Canada on Twitter – all spreading the word about what they can do to make their communities more Baby-Friendly.
It is a time for our hospital to celebrate our Baby-Friendly designation and our leadership role in the provincial initiative. Be proud! Let’s encourage our colleagues and partner organizations to adopt Baby-Friendly – together we’re growing a Baby-Friendly Ontario!

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