With one of the busiest birth centres in the region, Richmond Hospital staff are not only well-versed in helping mothers deliver healthy babies, but setting them up for success once they leave the hospital—especially when it comes to breastfeeding.
In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week, staff gathered in the Ralph Fisher Auditorium earlier this week to acknowledge the work being done in Richmond to help build a culture that fosters conversations around the importance of breastfeeding.
“Our job as health care practionners is to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding," says Dorothy McKune, Registered Nurse at Richmond Hospital's Birth Centre, sharing that recent studies show globally, only 40 percent of babies are breastfed exclusively. And while stories and photos of moms around the world have emerged recently about women challenging this—breastfeeding in locker rooms, in houses of parliament, and even on the runway of a fashion show—there are still many misconceptions and fears surrounding the topic. A truth Richmond Birth Centre is trying to change.
Frances Jones, coordinator at BC Women's Lactation Services and Milk Bank congratulated the community of Richmond for their support of donated breast milk, which has been on an upward trend— seeing over 350 donors throughout the province in 2016/17. Of all the donor depots throughout Vancouver Coastal Health, Richmond has the highest amount of donors—with mothers donating an incredible 900 pounds of breastmilk in the last year alone.
Donated breastmilk has also been implemented throughout Richmond's Birth Centre and ICU's as an alternative to formula thanks to the support from many physicians including pediatrician Dr. Balbinder Gill, who spoke about infant outcomes with breastmilk and pasteurized donor milk.
And while Richmond has seen improvements and great success stories with their skin-to-skin and breastfeeding programs with new moms and their babies, a recent VCHRI-funded study showed that culturally in Richmond, we still have a lot of work to do in order to create breastfeeding environments that support all ethnic groups in our community—primarily Chinese moms.
“Through focus groups, Chinese moms in our community told us that there are still many things we could do better in order for them to become more comfortable with the act and the idea of breastfeeding," said Chris Salgado, manager of Community and Family Health. “From engaging with moms pre-natal to creating breastfeeding-friendly environments not just here in the hospital, but throughout our community—we look forward to implementing some of the research findings to better support moms and babies in our community."
With a goal of becoming a certified Baby-Friendly hospital, Richmond continues to champion breastfeeding in the community and arming staff with the tools and information they need to support Richmond mothers through this exciting time. A number of projects are currently on-going throughout Richmond including:
- Breastfeeding Spaces in the Community project connecting with large community public buildings such as Richmond Centre, IKEA, McArthur Glen Designer Outlet Mall, and the Vancouver International Airport, to create signage that increases awareness of breastfeeding-friendly spaces in their buildings.
- “Breastfeeding Any Time Any Where" posters and decals at the multiple locations throughout the community including community centres, libraries, aquatic centres, pharmacies, as well as in doctors' and midwifes' offices.
To learn more about World Breastfeeding week or to access information and resources on breastfeeding, visit the BC Baby-Friendly Network's website.