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Enable Breastfeeding – Make a Difference!

Canadian Breastfeeding Week is celebrated from October 1 to 7 each year. The week is set aside to raise awareness about the critical role breastfeeding plays for the nutrition, immunologic protection, growth and development of young children. 

This year, the theme Enabling Breastfeeding – Making a Difference for Working Parents is meant to focus attention on breastfeeding and its benefits not just to the parent, child and family, but to the work place and broader economy as well. 

Importance to the Family

Exclusive breastfeeding (baby getting only breastmilk) is recommended for the first six months, with continued breastfeeding along with solid foods for up to two years and beyond. 

  • Breastmilk is perfectly designed for a child’s nutritional needs and helps to prevent infections. 
  • Breastfeeding supports parent and child attachment, provides food security to infants, and ensures the breastfeeding parent and child have the opportunity to be healthy.
  • Breastfeeding is important for the breastfeeding parent’s health as it decreases the risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, depression, type 2 diabetes and weak bones. 

Importance to the Economy

Breastfed babies are healthier babies which reduces time off for working parents needing to care for sick children. Breastfeeding also reduces healthcare costs and nurtures economic growth by increasing the overall well-being of the population. 

Employers benefit from not just reduced employee absenteeism, but when workplace breastfeeding policies are in place, it can increase employee satisfaction, loyalty, productivity and retention. 

Breastfeeding-Friendly Workplaces

The Ontario Human Rights Code has a policy that provides a strong rationale for implementing policies that support the breastfeeding parent in the workplace. Ways to do this include flexible work schedules, on-site childcare, virtual work and part-time work. Environmental support would include designating a clean, comfortable and private space within the workplace for employees to feed or express breastmilk. The space could include a comfortable chair, electrical outlet, baby changing station, hand washing facilities and signage to ensure privacy. 

If you are interested in developing a workplace breastfeeding policy, check out our website for further information: https://www.healthunit.com/workplace-breastfeeding. 

We ALL play a critical role in empowering families and sustaining breastfeeding friendly environments. How can you help?

  • Be a supportive colleague for flexible work arrangements
  • Learn about the importance of breastfeeding
  • Support the implementation of an organizational breastfeeding policy

To learn more about breastfeeding and local support, check out Middlesex-London Health Unit https://www.healthunit.com/breastfeeding or call 519-663-5317.


Health Canada. (2012). Nutrition for healthy term infants. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/canada-food-guide/resources/nutrition-healthy-term-infants/nutrition-healthy-term-infants-recommendations-birth-six-months.html 

Ontario Human Rights Commission. (2014). Policy on preventing discrimination because of pregnancy and breastfeeding. https://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/policy-preventing-discrimination-because-pregnancy-and-breastfeeding

World Health Organization. (2023). World breastfeeding week 2023 key messages. https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-breastfeeding-week/2023/key-messages


Laura Dueck, Public Health Nurse, Middlesex-London Health Unit


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