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Breast/Chest Feeding

Breast/chest feeding is one of the most important preventive health measures for both parent and child.

Indigenous_BFW.jpgBreast/chest feeding exclusively for the first six months (and sustained for up to two years or longer with appropriate complementary feeding) is important for the nutrition, immunologic protection, growth, and development of infants and toddlers.

Perinatal Services BC believes that breast/chest feeding is a population health strategy that must be protected, supported, and promoted to optimize the health of parents and their infants.  

While B.C.’s breast/chest feeding initiation rate is 93 per cent, only 42 per cent of infants are breast/chest fed exclusively for six months. This highlights the need to continue to implement actions that advance breast/chest feeding in the province. 

Missed the webinar on October 6, 2022?

In honour of Canada's National Breastfeeding Week (Oct 1-7), PSBC led a webinar hosted by  Andrea Firmani, RN, IBCLC, Clinical Nurse Educator, Baby-Friendly Initiative Lead, Providence Health Care, and Lea Geiger, Provincial Clinical Coordinator, Maternal Infant Health, Perinatal Services BC.

Andrea and Lea discussed how a comprehensive, global quality improvement strategy can protect, promote and support breast/chest feeding.  They also covered:

  1. How health-care providers can create a supportive culture that empowers families to make infant feeding decisions.
  2. Ideas for quality improvement projects that will help your facility enhance infant feeding support from pregnancy through to postpartum and early parenthood.
  3. How the Baby-Friendly Initiative Ten Steps framework can work as a model of accountability in your facility.

Watch the webinar recording below.


Please note: Guidelines >5 years old should not be consulted or utilized for any clinical purposes. They are available for historical reference only.

External resources

Launched by World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF in 1991, the Baby-Friendly Initiative (BFI) is a global effort to implement practices that protect, promote, and support breastfeeding.

Perinatal Services BC endorses the Baby-Friendly Initiative as a framework for the provision of evidence-informed care to mothers, infants, and families, and upholds the WHO International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes to ensure the appropriate marketing and distribution of human milk substitutes and other products related to the code.

Perinatal Services BC sits on the Provincial/Territorial Implementation Committee for the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada (BCC). The BCC is the national authority for the BFI with the mandate of overseeing the implementation, assessment and monitoring of BFI in Canada. 

The BC Women's Provincial Milk Bank screens milk donors, collects and pasteurizes donated milk, and distributes it to hospitals in BC.

Milk from a baby’s own mother is always the first choice. When her milk isn’t available, donor milk is the next best thing. Donor milk has active beneficial properties and is similar to mother’s own milk. It provides babies with antibodies to fight disease and infection. Human milk is best for all babies. It is especially important for sick and very tiny babies.

The demand for milk is high and often exceeds supply. New donors are always needed. Download the list of Facilities with Donor Milk Collection Depots.
These materials promote community support of breast/chest feeding.

Click on the images below to see print ready versions of the promotional materials.

Download and print as many posters as you need for your sites.

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World Breastfeeding Week is August 1-7, however, it is celebrated in Canada from October 1-7. It is celebrated in October because it is the 10th month of the year and symbolizes the first week of a baby’s life (after nine months of pregnancy) when a baby may begin to breastfeed.

The #WBW2022 slogan "Step up for Breastfeeding: Educate and Support" will focus on strengthening the capacity of actors that have to protect, promote and support breast/chest feeding across different levels of society. These actors make up the  warm chain of support for breast/chest feeding. Target audiences including governments, health systems, workplaces and communities will be informed, educated and empowered to strengthen their capacity to provide and sustain breast/chest feeding-friendly environments for families in the post pandemic world. The theme is aligned with the  thematic area 1 of the  WBW-SDG 2030 campaign which highlights the links between breastfeeding and good nutrition, food security and reduction of inequalities.


The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA)  reminds us that although support at the individual level is very important, breast/chest feeding must be considered a public health issue that requires investment at all levels. The concept of 'building back better' after the COVID 19 pandemic will provide an opportunity to create a warm chain of support for breastfeeding that includes health systems, workplaces and communities at all levels of society. A warm chain of support will help build an enabling environment for breast/chest feeding and protect against industry influence.  It is time to inform, anchor, engage and galvanise action to protect breast/chest feeding at all levels.

Learn more about World Breastfeeding Week.

Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge
In October, the Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge celebrates breastfeeding and milk-banking and demonstrates promotion, protection, and support for breastfeeding women and their families. It’s a chance for education and peer support to be done in a fun social way. 

The challenge is usually held the first Saturday in October of each year to see which geographic area (province, state, or territory) has the most breastfeeding babies, as a percentage of the birthrate, “latched on” at 11 am local time.
SOURCE: Breast/Chest Feeding ( )
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