Building a Breastfeeding Environment
Communities in the Antigonish, Guysborough and Strait area are all a buzz about a local initiative aimed at creating a supportive breastfeeding environment.
Building a Breastfeeding Environment or BaBE, as it is better known, is a network of individuals, families, and communities united in cultivating a breastfeeding-friendly environment in Nova Scotia.
“What BaBE is doing is empowering mothers,” said Zoe Fielding, a local mother who participates in the BaBE program. “It's empowering them through education and providing opportunities for them to share experiences, opinions, challenges and successes related to breastfeeding.
The objective of BaBE is to collaborate with the public in developing a culture where breastfeeding is viewed as being acceptable anytime and anywhere, and to build community capacity in implementing appropriate changes to make this possible.
“It’s so rewarding working with an initiative like BaBE-- one that is developing a culture where breastfeeding is viewed as being acceptable anytime, anywhere,” said Sionnach Lukeman, president of BaBE and healthy development content lead for Public Health in the Antigonish, Guysborough and Strait Area. “Not only are we creating awareness, we are creating partnerships that will continue to promote this important message.”
Angela Penney, a leader with the Antigonish Group of La Leche League Canada (LLLC), a national organization which provided experienced mother- to-mother breastfeeding support, said the BaBE initiative fills a gap in support for breastfeeding mothers.
“LLLC-Antigonish has been supporting mothers in the Antigonish region for almost 35 years, but time and again we have heard that giving direct mother-to-mother support and information just isn’t enough; the community needs to be supportive and welcoming to breastfeeding mothers, too,” she said. “We applaud BaBE for their work in normalizing breastfeeding in the Strait, Guysborough and Antigonish areas and look forward to partnering with them in many future events.”
The BaBE group isn’t shy about using humour or pop culture to increase awareness. In October 2014, the team partnered with students at St. Francis Xavier University to create a music video set to Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" – with some more breastfeeding friendly lyrics.
The focus of the video was aimed at increasing the public’s comfort level with seeing breastfeeding in public.
The team more recently launched a bracelet campaign, asking community members to wear the band to show their support for efforts to build a breastfeeding-friendly environment.
They are also set to release a second video this fall that will show how important it is for all community members to have a role in supporting breastfeeding, as well as feature moms who are breastfeeding “anytime and anywhere”.
“The community is changing how it views breastfeeding anytime, anywhere in a positive way and it is because BaBE is providing mothers and other supports a chance to advocate for themselves and for their hungry babies”.
BaBE is supported by Thrive! Community Breastfeeding Grants, through the Department of Health and Wellness.
For more information on the BaBE initiative:
Website at www.babens.ca.
Facebook (BaBE-Building a Breastfeeding Environment)