In an effort to promote and support breastfeeding the World Health Organization has created the Baby-Friendly Initiative.
It designates organizations as "baby friendly" when they meet all the standards to help parents make informed decisions about feeding their baby.
In Canada, the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada has undertaken the designation process and they assess and investigate all applications to become "baby friendly."
Ottawa Public Health is proud to be one of just 19 agencies in Canada that have been deemed to be baby friendly. It achieved its designation in May of 2013 and will be up for review in 2018.
It's not an easy designation to gain. It involves training for every person on their pay roll, every volunteer and every person who interacts with clients on behalf of an organization.
"It includes child care practices like making sure that moms and babies are not separated directly after their birth, making sure that rooming is available to keep moms and babies together, the promotion of skin-to-skin to make sure that parents recognize early cues, build parenting confidence," said public health nurse Caren Croft.
She explained that in order to get this designation, Ottawa Public Health had to overhaul their training and undergo on-site inspections to make sure they were meeting the global standards set by the WHO and UNICEF.
That process includes interviewing all staff and volunteers to make sure their knowledge and experience is on par with the Baby-Friendly Initiative.
"They will do extensive interviewing with clients to make sure that families received the information and the support and services that they required in order to have positive experiences with their pregnancy, the birth of their children," said Croft.
The goal is to also make sure parents make an informed decision about how they feed their child and that, regardless of the choice they make, they receive excellent supports to keep their children healthy.
On average in Ottawa between 8,000 and 9,000 babies are born in hospitals each year and Ottawa Public Health contacts all families who give consent to offer a follow-up visit and ensure the family knows how to access the plethora of services available to them at no cost.