The start of National Breastfeeding Week was celebrated in Hay River on Sept. 30.
The event included a virtual ‘latch-on’ hosted by the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority.
Some representatives of the authority gathered at the Hay River Community Centre, while members of the community participated online for the ‘latch-on’ in which mothers all began feeding their babies at the same time – either by breast or bottle.
Emilie Lemonde-Hinse, a registered midwife with the health authority, said it was believed to be the first event of its kind in Hay River to launch National Breastfeeding Week, which began on Oct. 1 and concluded on Oct. 7.
“The latch-on events happen all over the world, but we wanted to start this and start to promote breastfeeding in Hay River,” she said.
Fourteen mothers and their babies participated.
“What usually happens during these kind of events is everyone gets together in a big space like a gym or something in bigger centres, and they all feed their baby at the same time,” said Lemonde-Hinse. “Obviously because of Covid and restrictions, we didn’t want to deal with the logistics of that and having limitations on what we could do, so we decided to hold it over Zoom and we figured that we might actually get more people because people could do it from home at a convenient time when everyone is home from work.”
During the event, Lemonde-Hinse told participants that National Breastfeeding Week aims to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
“We know that the first few hours and days of a newborn baby’s life are a critical window for establishing breastfeeding and providing the support to mothers so that they can successfully breastfeed,” she said. “And I think as a community we need to support our peers, we need to support each other. We have a responsibility to ensure that all mothers feel supported during this very critical period.”
Lemonde-Hinse noted that the Hay River Regional Health Centre is continuously taking steps towards becoming a baby-friendly designated facility.
“Some of those steps include training for all the nurses and healthcare providers so that you’re all getting the same consistent information no matter how you choose to feed your baby,” she told the mothers on Zoom. “And so we want to be inclusive of everyone no matter how they choose to, whether that’s formula, whether that’s breast milk or whether it’s a combination of both.”