Province Announces The Pas Primary Health Centre Becomes First Community Health Service to Receive Baby Friendly Initiative Designation

October 1, 2015

Oct. 1 to 7 Proclaimed Breastfeeding Week: Minister Blady

The Pas Primary Health Centre is the first community health service in Manitoba to receive the Baby Friendly Initiative designation, Health Minister Sharon Blady announced today.

“As a mom, I know the importance of giving babies the best start in life possible, especially as we know the health benefits of breastfeeding will last a lifetime,” said Minister Blady.  “Research has shown breastfeeding is associated with reduced obesity, reduced chronic diseases including Type II diabetes, improved oral health and improved early childhood development, all important parts of supporting good health.”

The centre is the second facility in Manitoba to be designated a Baby Friendly Initiative site by the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada as part of a worldwide program of the World Health Organization and UNICEF.  The other site is at Bethesda Health Centre in Steinbach.

The minister noted that in addition to improving breastfeeding initiation and duration rates, Baby Friendly facilities are better able to support those mothers whose babies are not breastfed by providing individual teaching about alternatives and recognizing their babies’ feeding needs and cues.

The designation was announced at a Baby Friendly conference held earlier in September with more than 140 participants including health-care professionals, primarily hospital and community public health nurses, home visiting program staff and midwives.

“As La Leche League Canada leaders working with breastfeeding families, we know how important the Baby Friendly Initiative is for helping mothers get breastfeeding off to a good start,” said Suzanne Gorman, executive director, La Leche League Canada.  “Congratulations to The Pas Primary Health Care Centre, and its dedicated staff, in achieving Baby Friendly Initiative designation.  We know it takes a lot of hard work.  You are making a big difference for the families in your community.”

The designation also supports the implementation of the Manitoba Provincial Breastfeeding Strategy, which looks at ways for mothers, families, health-care providers, health-care facilities and others to work together to:

  • improve access to information and other resources to support breastfeeding;
  • increase breastfeeding rates at discharge from hospital, birth centre or after a home birth;
  • increase the rates of exclusive breastfeeding to six months and continued breastfeeding to two years and beyond;
  • narrow the gap between breastfeeding initiation, exclusivity and duration between northern and southern Manitoba, urban, rural and isolated communities as well as between different
    socio-economic groups; and
  • achieve Baby Friendly Initiative accreditation in Manitoba birthing hospitals, birth centres and community public health offices.

The international accreditation program was developed by the World Health Organization and UNICEF and has increased breastfeeding rates, reduced complications for mothers and babies, and improved mothers’ health-care experiences globally.

“This prestigious designation recognizes hospitals and community health services that put policies and practices in place to protect, promote and support breastfeeding,” said Minister Blady.  “I want to congratulate the hardworking people who are supporting Manitoba families and have made this designation possible.”

Blady said the province is proclaiming Oct. 1 to 7 as Breastfeeding Week in Manitoba, with the theme‘Breastfeeding and Work’.  The minister noted the value of companies have a breastfeeding policy for staff to make it easier for women to choose breastfeeding, and to support mothers to choose to continue to exclusively breastfeed for six months and up to two years and beyond or as long as mother and baby wish.

Research shows organizations that support breastfeeding mothers on their return to work can benefit through reduced parental absence, a higher rate of return to work following maternity leave, increased staff loyalty and improved staff continuity.  Breastfeeding in public and provisions for employees who are breastfeeding are rights protected under the Manitoba Human Rights Code.

Minister Blady noted Manitoba Health, Healthy Living and Seniors has a Workplace Breastfeeding Policy to promote and support breastfeeding, and the expression of breast milk by clients and/or employees.

For more information on the Manitoba Provincial Breastfeeding Strategy, visit

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