Nothing but the breast

Danette Dooley
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As a salute to mother's milk, breastfeeding moms are encouraged to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week

Shukrije Keraki and her family lived in a refugee camp for 10 years before they came to Canada. She, her husband and their five sons moved to Newfoundland from Kosovo almost two years ago.

While life in a war-torn country and then in a refugee camp meant living with uncertainty, one thing Keraki could provide to her children was breast milk.

Shukrije Keraki breastfeeds her two-month-old daughter, Alma. - Photo by Danette Dooley/Special to The Telegram

Shukrije Keraki and her family lived in a refugee camp for 10 years before they came to Canada. She, her husband and their five sons moved to Newfoundland from Kosovo almost two years ago.

While life in a war-torn country and then in a refugee camp meant living with uncertainty, one thing Keraki could provide to her children was breast milk.

"Alma breastfed, too," Keraki says, glancing at her two-month-old daughter sleeping in an infant's chair.

Janet Fox-Beer, a public health nurse with Eastern Health, said 2008 statistics show that 64 per cent of mothers in this province were breastfeeding their newborns.

But by the time the babies were six months old, the number had dropped to 12.9 per cent.

"In Canada the six-month rate is only 16.4 per cent ...," Fox-Beer said, noting that the World Health Organization recommends six months of breastfeeding as the "gold standard" infant feeding practice for long-term health.

Protection

Breast milk provides protection against illnesses, Fox-Beer said, in addition to helping mother and baby bond.

It's a lifesaver for babies in war-torn countries, but Fox-Beer says it should be promoted for all living conditions.

She has first-hand experience of how breast milk can help in an emergency situation.

Her daughter, Katie, was born with a severe heart condition and, just months after her birth had to be taken to Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children.

"When we came home, we were only here about an hour when we lost all the power in St. John's during one of these ice storms," Fox-Beer recalled.

"For four or five days we didn't have power or electricity."

Had Fox-Beer not been breastfeeding, it would have been difficult to provide warm formula.

"We couldn't cure the problem Katie had with her heart, but the breastfeeding kept her well and let her enjoy life to the fullest," she said of her child, who passed away at age 14 months.

"Breastfeeding is something positive you can do for your baby and it makes you feel so good knowing you're giving them the best there is."

On Saturday, Eastern Health - in partnership with Breastfeeding Newfoundland and Labrador and the Le Leche League of Canada - will celebrate World Breastfeeding Week from 10 a.m. to noon at the Avalon Mall.

A worldwide breastfeeding challenge begins at 11 a.m.

"The challenge is about seeing how many moms we can get breastfeeding their babies at the same time," said Jane Bannister of the Le Leche League.

Last year, more than 7,500 babies in 19 countries were breastfed during the challenge.

danette@nl.rogers.com

Organizations: World Health Organization, Hospital for Sick Children, Le Leche League of Canada

Geographic location: Canada, Newfoundland, Kosovo Toronto St. John's

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Recent comments

  • A
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    I agree with the person who said: There's nothing more beautiful than ... mothers breast feeding their babies.

    Life isn't perfect but as a parent, you can sure begin it that way.

    Kudos to all the moms (and dads who support them) that at least attempt to give their kids a head start.

    Breast-feeding an infant is infinitely sensible and wicked cool. Healthy, smart + cheap.

    If I were to be a father I would be immensely proud of any woman who could birth and nurse a newborn.

    Plus, she'd be even sexier in my eyes, being a nurturing mother.

    Awesome.

    I realize not everyone can breastfeed; but I would encourage every mother to seek assistance and at least give it a good ole college *try*.

  • Jennifer
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    I have never understood the hysteria some people show towards breast feeding. It's natural and healthy. There is nothing sexual about it which is what most of the prudes seem to think. Oh my it's a boob! Banish them to the washrooms! There are many more young people showing much more boob and skin than the average breast-feeding mother. Kudos to all those who aren't afraid to breast-feed in public.

  • kma
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    I definately agree breastfeeding is a wonderful thing. BUT, it is not the only thing. If breastfeeding works for you, lucky you. If not, that's okay too. There is too much pressure put on moms to breastfeed. I tried to breastfeed my first child until she ended up in ICU dehydrated. I breastfed my 2nd child but at 8 weeks, he ended up admitted to the Janeway with RSV and bronchiolitis. Funny how my 1st child has never had more than a common cold and she wasn't breastfed and my 2nd child was breastfed and was admitted to the Janeway very sick. I question those stats that say breast is best . It certainly wasn't in my case.

  • debbie
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    Best thing I ever did and the thing I miss most about having babies around. I nursed my two children until they were 16 months old and neither ever had a bottle, pacifier or sickness during that time. They are now 5 and 3.

  • Taxpayer
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    Well, it looks as though you can have more than one person with the same name. The above taxpayer from NL is not me. I think breastfeeding is one of the most beneficial and beautiful things that a mother can do for their child. Not quite sure how we can have the same handle though.

  • A
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    With all due respect to the photographer (who was probably pressed for time), the mother and child could have been captured in a place better than this (before a brick wall).

    Breast-feeding is a natural thing. So ... perhaps a setting in nature ? The real world ? The back yard ? Mom's bedroom with background, even ?

    Anything but a lovely image against cold concrete.

  • mary
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    There's nothing more beautiful than to see mothers breast feeding their babies. Some in our society can be so negative at times towards breast feeding in public. It's the most nutritious, natural, nuturing method of feeding and bonding. Some women aren't able for different reasons but it's great to hear the old tradition is still very much carried on.

  • A
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    I agree with the person who said: There's nothing more beautiful than ... mothers breast feeding their babies.

    Life isn't perfect but as a parent, you can sure begin it that way.

    Kudos to all the moms (and dads who support them) that at least attempt to give their kids a head start.

    Breast-feeding an infant is infinitely sensible and wicked cool. Healthy, smart + cheap.

    If I were to be a father I would be immensely proud of any woman who could birth and nurse a newborn.

    Plus, she'd be even sexier in my eyes, being a nurturing mother.

    Awesome.

    I realize not everyone can breastfeed; but I would encourage every mother to seek assistance and at least give it a good ole college *try*.

  • Jennifer
    July 01, 2010 - 20:11

    I have never understood the hysteria some people show towards breast feeding. It's natural and healthy. There is nothing sexual about it which is what most of the prudes seem to think. Oh my it's a boob! Banish them to the washrooms! There are many more young people showing much more boob and skin than the average breast-feeding mother. Kudos to all those who aren't afraid to breast-feed in public.

  • kma
    July 01, 2010 - 20:11

    I definately agree breastfeeding is a wonderful thing. BUT, it is not the only thing. If breastfeeding works for you, lucky you. If not, that's okay too. There is too much pressure put on moms to breastfeed. I tried to breastfeed my first child until she ended up in ICU dehydrated. I breastfed my 2nd child but at 8 weeks, he ended up admitted to the Janeway with RSV and bronchiolitis. Funny how my 1st child has never had more than a common cold and she wasn't breastfed and my 2nd child was breastfed and was admitted to the Janeway very sick. I question those stats that say breast is best . It certainly wasn't in my case.

  • debbie
    July 01, 2010 - 20:05

    Best thing I ever did and the thing I miss most about having babies around. I nursed my two children until they were 16 months old and neither ever had a bottle, pacifier or sickness during that time. They are now 5 and 3.

  • Taxpayer
    July 01, 2010 - 19:52

    Well, it looks as though you can have more than one person with the same name. The above taxpayer from NL is not me. I think breastfeeding is one of the most beneficial and beautiful things that a mother can do for their child. Not quite sure how we can have the same handle though.

  • A
    July 01, 2010 - 19:52

    With all due respect to the photographer (who was probably pressed for time), the mother and child could have been captured in a place better than this (before a brick wall).

    Breast-feeding is a natural thing. So ... perhaps a setting in nature ? The real world ? The back yard ? Mom's bedroom with background, even ?

    Anything but a lovely image against cold concrete.

  • mary
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    There's nothing more beautiful than to see mothers breast feeding their babies. Some in our society can be so negative at times towards breast feeding in public. It's the most nutritious, natural, nuturing method of feeding and bonding. Some women aren't able for different reasons but it's great to hear the old tradition is still very much carried on.