Simcoe, May 25, 2016 85.6% of new mothers breastfed their newborns at birth, but only 20.4% of mothers breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, according to the results from the HNHU 2014 Infant Feeding Survey.
The survey of consenting women was conducted by phone 48 hours after discharge from the hospital (403 participants), at two weeks (239 participants) and at six months (162 participants). The survey included questions about their methods of feeding (breastmilk vs formula or combination of the two), reasons for introducing formula and what concerns or difficulties the mother may have had with breastfeeding.
This is the first time local data on infant feeding practices has been collected. “We wanted to know what difficulties and concerns women have with feeding their baby so that we could serve them better”, said Michelle Saraiva, public health dietitian on the Maternal and Child Health team.
What an infant is fed early in life has a profound effect on his or her future health and quality of life. Breastfeeding exclusively (no other liquids or food) is recommended for the first six months. At 6 months complementary solid foods should be introduced with continued breastfeeding up to two years and beyond.
“Our survey showed that formula is often introduced within the first two weeks of baby being born as this is the time that moms have the most difficulty with breastfeeding,” said Saraiva “Timely breastfeeding support at birth and in the days and weeks that follow is crucial. “
The HNHU offers a number of services such as contacting all new moms through their Healthy Babies, Healthy Children program to offer one-on-one feeding and parenting support and offering Well Baby Drop-ins at local Ontario Early Years Centres. They also provide various resources and education and awareness campaigns on infant feeding.
The HNHU is in the process of conducting another infant feeding survey in 2016. The survey, in addition to gaining more data about local moms, is part of the HNHU’s efforts to achieve Baby-Friendly designation, a global effort to implement practices that protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
New moms willing to participate in the survey can call (519-426-6170 x3250) for more information.
Public Health Dietitian
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
(519) 426-6170 x3237