Breastfeeding Buddies program links experienced volunteers with new moms to offer peer support

Troubleshooting and problem solving the challenges of breastfeeding can be a daunting task when you're facing it alone with your first child.

Ottawa Public Health's Breastfeeding Buddies program matches volunteers who've breastfed before with new moms to help ease the transition to motherhood. It's an especially important program for those moms who don't have family nearby or a support group among friends and family.

Nurse Caren Croft said Ottawa Public Health will match a new mom with a volunteer who has similar experiences, whether it's breastfeeding multiple babies, dealing with a fussy eater or another specific challenge.

"So, you know, (she) has special skills and troubleshooting and problem solving that she's developed to be able to talk to moms. And it's nice for a mom to know that she's not the only one. Sometimes it can be a little bit isolating," she said.

Breastfeeding Buddies links the moms and volunteers by phone so they can troubleshoot and share helpful tips and some do choose to meet in person and form stronger bonds.

Croft said there is also in-person breastfeeding support available through Ottawa Public Health.

"We have, seven days a week, support services available to our moms at our Baby Express drop-ins. Public health nurses are available to assist all of our moms," she said.

As well, each October Public Health also runs The Breastfeeding Challenge which is a large peer support activity that highlights women's right to breastfeed in public and raises awareness about the health and societal benefits of breastfeeding.

The World Health Organization, Unicef and Ottawa Public Health support breastfeeding as the healthiest feeding option for both mom and baby and as the best option for society because of the many cost-saving and environmental benefits.

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