‘As front-line as you get’: Families protest cuts to breastfeeding help – Manitoba

Dozens of people gathered outside the Manitoba Legislature on Tuesday morning to protest cuts to the lactation program at Women’s Hospital.

In mid-July, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority announced it will be cutting a service that assists new mothers to breastfeed their babies at Health Sciences Centre to help meet its goal of finding $83 million in total savings this year.

Brett Mann, a mother of two, is one of the organizers behind Tuesday’s rally. She said lactation consultants provide a vital role not only ensuring babies get enough milk but also in easing stress on new mothers.

“Having that first point of contact right in hospital and knowing you can have that support ongoing I think is very important to a lot of parents,” she said.

Protest organizers say cuts to the lactation program at Women’s Hospital are ‘crazy.’ (Gary Solilak/CBC)

A spokesperson for Manitoba’s Health Minister said Monday while the lactation consultation program is being cut, new moms still have options in Winnipeg to help with breastfeeding.

“These services continue to be available where they are most accessible to new mothers, which is in the community. This includes one-on-one consultations and breastfeeding clinics,” the spokesperson said in an email.

“We recognize the importance of breastfeeding supports and education, which is why the WRHA is expanding lactation support training to include the full complement of nurses on postpartum wards.”

Both a nurse educator and clinical nurse specialist will be hired, the spokesperson said, to train nurses to assist new mothers with breastfeeding.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said providing this training will ensure lactation support is available around the clock. Currently lactation consultants are only available for 10 hours per day.

Breastfeeding support is available at six clinics in Winnipeg.

‘A safety net’ for mothers

Mann said she has her doubts whether nurses have the ability to take on the…

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