Toronto Moms and Breastfeeding

Updated December 19: I was curious because I hadn’t heard how the campaign to save the North York General hospital breastfeeding clinic turned out. An article in Sunday’s Globe and Mail confirms the government will not reverse its decision.

This is a shame. Without the support I received from the Ottawa Hospital when Tristan was born, I would never have been able to continue nursing Tristan. Even though he was born weighing 9 lbs, he was borderline failure-to-thrive within a couple of weeks because of the trouble I had getting the latch right. My nipples were blistered and bleeding and I felt like a failure. It was a very dark time in my life, and if it weren’t for the support I got from almost daily visits to the lactation clinic I would have given in to formula. Even my incredibly supportive mother and husband didn’t understand why perservering with breastfeeding was so important to me, when it was obviously causing such dismay and disruption.

As it was, we survived the poor latch, then thrush, then reflux, all within the first three months, and I nursed him until he was almost a year old. I nursed his brother for more than 16 months. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the lactation clinic.

Some things are more important than the fiscal bottom line.


As seen at MUBAR:

December 9, 2005
To All Supporters of Dr. Newman’s NYGH Clinic:

As you know, I am running the campaign to save Dr. Newman’s NYGH breastfeeding clinic. In the past few weeks we have obtained over 2200 signatures on our petition and hundreds of letters and emails of support. All have been sent to Minister Smitherman and various others in the Ministry of Health, as well as to NYGH administrators. We have also sent several supportive articles to prove the benefits and cost savings breastfeeding brings to our health care system. We have obtained media attention from CFRB, CBC radio, CTV, Global, CBC National News, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, The Bayview Post, The Town Crier and The North York Mirror.

Despite all of our attempts, both NYGH and the Ministry of Health have not responded to our concerns or requests to either reinstate the NYGH clinic or establish a new publicly funded clinic in Toronto available to all mothers. At this point – based on the information we have obtained about a new ministry funding formula – it appears that there is no hope of persuading NYGH to reinstate the clinic. The hospital insists that mothers will have to find help for breastfeeding difficulties in the community, but there are no unrestricted, full-time, government funded community clinics in Ontario with the presence of a doctor.

Our only hope appears to be to convince the Ministry of Health to assist us in creating and funding a new clinic. To this end we have decided to stage a Nurse-In at Queen’s Park. We believe that this might be the only way to get Mr. Smitherman to pay attention to us. The Nurse-In must be organized quickly because the clinic at NYGH is closing December 15, 2005 and the house begins its winter break on December 16 and will not return to work until mid-February 2006.

We hope to get as many people as possible to commit to coming down to Queen’s Park next Thursday, December 15, 2005 at 11:00 a.m. Babies and children are welcome. If you feel comfortable enough to nurse, we invite you to do so. If not, your presence is all we ask.

Once we have enough people committed to coming to Queen’s Park I will inform Minister Smitherman of our plan. I hope to do this on Monday. We will also inform the media and tell Minister Smitherman that they are aware of the Nurse-In. With any luck, the threat of a protest and media attention will convince the Ministry to take pre-emptive action. But we have to be prepared to follow through if they don’t.

To ensure that people don’t go to Queen’s Park unnecessarily, we will post a web page at with relevant information. This notice will be posted, as will any updates. Please check this page Wednesday evening (December 14, 2005) to find out if the Nurse-In will be held or if it will be cancelled. We will give Minister Smitherman a deadline of Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. so that if he agrees to negotiate with us we have ample time to inform all participants that the Nurse-In is cancelled.

If you are interested in attending or if you know someone who would be, please send me an email ASAP with your contact information, including your email address and phone number. It is important that you let me know if you are coming. I need to know how many people will attend so we can ensure a fair turnout before informing the Ministry of Health and the media and so we can update Mr. Smitherman throughout the week on the number of supporters our campaign has.

Thank you for considering this request. Feel free to forward this email to anyone who might want to participate.

Esther Goldstein

Author: DaniGirl

Canadian. storyteller, photographer, mom to 3. Professional dilettante.

5 thoughts on “Toronto Moms and Breastfeeding”

  1. My hubby told me about your blog subject last night. I have heard about this for awhile now and it just amazes me that they would consider this. We are lucky enough to have a expert in breast feeding and they want to shut it down. As a mom who went through hell and back with nursing, I relied heavily on clinics modeled after this one. Shame on them!

  2. That really is a shame. Without the help of the lactation department staff at our local hospital, I would have quit early on. Unfortunately, the people that make these decisions don’t have first-hand experience with the services that are affected.

  3. I tried breastfeeding for awhile and ended up giving it up after a couple of months. One thing I know for sure, it is not easy at all. There is no whipping out the boob and presto baby starts eating; it takes a lot of patience and in a lot of cases, a lot of help.

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