For a year now the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital has been offering breastfeeding support to moms, both new and experienced.
The Slurps and Burps program celebrated its one year anniversary during World Breastfeeding Week, which was celebrated Oct. 1 to 7 in Canada. The program invites moms from Trail and the surrounding area to the hospital every Tuesday for an hour and half to ask questions, share stories, and get tips on how to improve the breastfeeding experience for both mom and baby.
Dr. Trudi Toews started the program, and Bev Harmston, perinatal educator, and Margit Hinchcliffe, an international board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) and registered nurse who works in the maternity ward, have been facilitating it.
“It’s always been an ongoing concern in perinatal care, first of all, how many parents are breastfeeding and then how many people continue to breastfeed, and the support around breastfeeding in the community, and what that looks like around here,” said Harmston, asked about why the program was started.
Moms can bring in their infants and get hands-on help with breastfeeding from Harmston and Hinchcliffe. There’s also a midwife who works with the group, and moms who come in can also be referred to the doctor on call, who will sometimes drop by to talk to the group.
“If the group is still going or if there are people still in the group when the doctor comes in to do the clinic, then they come in and have a chat with everybody and sort of touch base,” said Hinchcliffe.
And the KBRH will soon have even more staff who can help out with the program.
“What we’ve done is we’ve got 80 per cent of the nurses on staff enrolled in a breastfeeding course and they will at the end of it be what we call breastfeeding champions, so then they can actually assist in running this clinic,” said Harmston.
The moms also have the chance to talk to each other and get support.
Problems the program has helped moms with include sore nipples, engorgement, latching (how well the baby latches onto its mother’s breast), challenges with premature babies, and social support.
“The society still isn’t really supporting those breastfeeding moms as much as they should be,” said Harmston. “That attitude [that moms shouldn’t breastfeed in public] is still very out there unfortunately, so then what’s a mom supposed to do? Go in the bathroom and sit on the edge of the toilet to feed her baby?”
“It’s ok for them [women] to show their breasts in a sexual way, but it’s not ok for them to show their breasts in a nurturing way and that’s unfortunate,” said Hinchcliffe.
Funding for the program comes from Shared Care, a partnership between Doctors of BC and the BC Ministry of Health. It helps to pay for Harmston and Hinchcliffe’s time, since they run the program outside of their usual hours.
Harmston and Hinchcliffe plan for the program to continue, but they may have to change the day of the week that the program is offered on.
“There’s a program in Trail called Building Beautiful Babies, and it runs at the same time as this,” said Harmston, “so some of those moms might benefit from coming up here as well, but you know which one do they go to?”
For now Slurps and Burps takes place on Tuesdays on the fourth floor of the KBRH from 11:30 a.m. To 1 p.m.
This story will appear in the West Kootenay Advertiser the week of Thursday, October 15.