Breastfeeding has long been recognized as the normal, safest, and best way to feed infants and toddlers and is the first step in a lifetime of healthy eating. Even with this recognition, Nova Scotia has one of the lowest breastfeeding initiation rates in the country with just 70% of women breastfeeding when they leave the hospital. In addition, only 12.4% of Nova Scotian women reach the recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding until six months.
To address nutrition related issues, Healthy Eating Nova Scotia was developed as a planning framework for strategic and comprehensive action on healthy eating. The province supports breastfeeding through its Provincial Breastfeeding Policy.
In addition to the Provincial Breastfeeding Policy, the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission has a breastfeeding policy that affirms a woman’s right to breastfeed in public. The policy states that women cannot be told or made to feel compelled to move to a more discrete area to breastfeed. The policy also states that women who need to breastfeed while working should be accommodated by the employer to do so. An Action Support Kit has been created to help local businesses build their knowledge about breastfeeding and provide tools to better support breastfeeding women whether they are employees or clients.
The Baby Friendly Initiative is an international program, established by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, to promote, support, and protect breastfeeding worldwide in hospitals and in the community.
Recognizing the crucial role that the community setting plays, the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada built upon the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative- 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding with theSeven Point Plan for the Protection, Promotion, and Support of Breastfeeding in Community Health Services. Combined with the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, these three policy documents are supporting women in Canada to make informed decisions regarding infant and toddler feeding.