District of Lake Country municipal buildings are now considered baby friendly after Lake Country council voted to support an initiative from fourth year nursing students at UBCO.
The district accepted a recommendation from the nursing students to designate all district owned and operated facilities baby friendly, an initiative designed to allow for a friendly place for mothers to breast-feed.
Lake Country was the first municipality to adopt the policy presented by UBCO nursing students who met with Kelowna politicians but were not able to present at a council meeting.
“This is about creating a space where a mother feels safe to breast-feed her chiid without any discrimination or without anyone asking them to leave,” said student Kate Rudrum.
Councilors heard a well-planned proposal from the nursing students who said many moms aren’t breast-feeding for the recommended six months, despite the health benefits. And while it may seem like the modern times have learned to accept things like breast-feeding in public, the students said in fact studies have found the opposite.
“Twenty-one per cent of mothers did not feel comfortable (breast-feeding) in Kelowna specifically,” said student Nesa Hamidi. “They were often asked to leave the property or asked to breast-feed in a stall, neither of which are appropriate.”
The nurses presented the policy to Lake Country and said it came with many positives:
•It is free to implement
•It has the full support of Interior Health
•It creates a positive image that the district is supporting babies and families
•It improves overall community health.
The students provided plenty of information on breast-feeding and the overall health benefits for babies who breast-feed for the first six months of their life.
Overall they said breast-feeding rates are down despite the health benefits and one of the reasons why it could be down is because of the public stigma associated with a breast-feeding mother.
The report received plenty of positive support from Lake Country council.
“I’m very supportive of this,” said Coun. Lisa Cameron. “This shows we are a family friendly place and it’s something that is easy to implement.”
Coun. Rob Geier took a lighter note, joking that allowing breast-feeding moms in district owned facilities is right in line with other policies.
“We’re trying to support the 50 mile diet and farm to table and buying local and it doesn’t get any more local than this,” he said.
Under the new policy, the district will display the World Health Organization’s baby friendly sticker in its buildings as well as have its staff educated on the rights of women to breast-feed in its buildings.