Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario

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Breastfeeding

A mother’s breast milk is a precious resource when it comes to a baby’s development.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), breast milk contains nutrients that promote healthy growth. It’s also filled with antibodies that cannot be found in infant formula that stave off diarrhea and pneumonia. The United Nations agency recommends mothers breastfeed newborns for the first six months of their lives.

Nurses know how important breastfeeding is for mother and child, which is why RNAO has produced a number of helpful resources over the years for health-care providers and mothers.

One such tool is Breastfeeding Best Practice Guidelines for Nurses (BPG). Its goal is to improve breastfeeding outcomes and, since its publication date in 2003, the guideline has been implemented in a number of health-care organizations across Ontario, including: Two Rivers Family Health Team, Mount Sinai Hospital, Thunder Bay District Health Unit, Guelph General Hospital, Grey Bruce Health Unit, Credit Valley Hospital and Trillium Health Centre, and Hôpital Montfort Hospital. Internationally, it is also being employed across Spain.

RNAO developed Breastfeeding Educational Resources, described as a mother/infant self-reflection guide for nurses and clinical case studies, which is based on the BPG.

A fact sheet was also created that covers topics such as: factors that influence a mother’s choice to breastfeed her baby, how nurses can support a mother’s choice to breastfeed, and tips on how health-care providers can support breastfeeding.

Nurses have also raised the issue of creating a comprehensive provincial breastfeeding strategy at RNAO’s annual Take Your MPP to Work Day events. “A provincial breastfeeding strategy has the potential to improve individual, family, and community health by addressing broad systemic factors that impact health such as discrimination,” reads RNAO’s 2011 Creating Vibrant Communities document (PDF). “A provincial breastfeeding strategy would facilitate education opportunities and cultural norms that support a more inclusive society that welcomes breastfeeding as a basic human right.”

Breast milk offers babies a healthy start to their young lives, which is why RNAO will continue to ensure mothers are well-supported when breastfeeding their tots, and nurses are armed with the most up-to-date evidence to provide to their patients.

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