Saturday, July 11, 2009
Breastfeeding Moms lose Support Program
Meadowvale mother Catherine Coghlan with her eight-month-old son, Milo Clarke, were part of a breastfeeding support group that was discontinued by the Region of Peel.
A decision by Peel Health to cancel a breastfeeding support program has left some first-time mothers wondering where they'll now go for help.
Dr. David Mowat, Peel's medical officer of health, told yesterday's meeting of Regional Council that there isn't enough money or resources available to run the program, so it was cancelled last week.
Mowat added that only some 150 women participated each year in the initiative, which invited mothers to meet weekly at three locations in Mississauga and Brampton to ask questions of one another and share their concerns related to breastfeeding. A registered nurse was also in attendance.
When Meadowvale mother Catherine Coghlan had trouble breastfeeding her son, she visited the support group.
“Breastfeeding was my biggest problem and I needed to go to a place where I could ask questions,” Coghlan said. “At these sessions, there was a focus on breastfeeding that was important to me. But they (Region) cancelled it. I think of all the mothers who are going to be in the position I was in, and wonder what they'll do.”
Mowat told councillors that, with so few women participating in the program, Peel Health has instead decided to direct resources into programs that promote breastfeeding. He said research shows not many mothers opt to breastfeed to begin with.
“Breastfeeding has a lot of challenges,” Mowat said. “We have about 16,500 new babies being born each year in Peel. We've had some challenges in consistently staffing these support groups. So we decided to divert our resources to areas where we have some concerns.”
Mississauga Ward 9 councillor Pat Saito told Mowat she has received e-mails and calls from young mothers concerned that they've been left without support.
She said she was disappointed to hear the program was cancelled without anything to replace it.
“We've always put a priority on the breastfeeding support in Peel for mothers,” Saito said. “I know this program has been an important part of their lives, especially in the first year. Going back to my own life as a mother, I know how great it would have been to have a support like this — not a phone number to call, but have the support of other mothers who are in the same situation in child-raising.”
Brampton wards 1 and 5 councillor Elaine Moore agreed.
“If I look at the demographics of the community where the support group in Brampton was offered, I can see there would potentially be a large number of mothers that would benefit from that kind of support,” she said.
Mowat acknowledged that the Region, in its haste to end the support group, didn't offer alternatives. He promised to review the decision to axe the program or offer some kind of continuity to mothers who want such support.