A health unit in the Grey Bruce Region of Ontario, Canada has put together a Breastfeeding Friendly business toolkit. This kit is designed to help businesses and organizations with strategies and resources to support their customers as well as their employees. This is great timing as just this summer a local restaurant asked a nursing mom, who was waiting on a friend, to leave their premises, in direct defiance of Ontario’s Human Rights Code.
Dr. Hazel Lynn, Grey Bruce Medical Officer of Health discusses the importance of this move.
Embracing breastfeeding friendly businesses helps to support the entire community on the road to wellness and we all want to be healthy. A measure of wellness of a community is reflected in the number of mothers who start and continue breastfeeding.
The Grey Bruce Health Unit encourages the businesses to go over the checklist that accompanies the kit, and place the sign provided in a visible location. This ensures all employees and customers are aware that they are in a safe, supportive space. Having a sign posted is a requirement for participation but businesses are encouraged to post more in their windows, on their doors, by cash registers etc. These signs are funded by the Ontario Provincial government.
Also included in the kit is a staff poster to make sure all staff understand customers’ rights to nurse and how they can support and accommodate them. Which includes tips on how to deal with complaints from other customers, such as quoting the Human Rights Code and asking the complainant to relocate rather than the nursing mom.
Another sheet includes tips for employees who wish to continue their breastfeeding relationship once they return to work. Tips such as pumping and milk storage information are included.
Grey Bruce Penninsula has a high number of mothers who initiate breastfeeding at birth, 98% in fact, but by 6 months only 43% are still nursing. Many mothers state lack of community support and negative public opinion as reason for stopping. The health unit sees this kit, and participating businesses, as a way to help increase that 43%.
A pdf copy of the tool kit can be downloaded from the Grey Bruce Health Unit website.