World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year from 1 to 7 August, not just to encourage breastfeeding, but to raise awareness of the different cultural and socio-economic challenges to breastfeeding that caregivers face world-wide. Nova Scotia has its own challenges. Our province has among the lowest breastfeeding rates in Canada, with less than one quarter of infants receiving Health Canada’s recommended 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding. We wanted to explore what local researchers are doing to contribute to our collective understanding of breastfeeding practices and culture here.
To take part in this conversation, we’re speaking with Dr. Kyly Whitfield, Assistant Professor of Applied Human Nutrition at Mount Saint Vincent University and lead researcher of the Milk and Micronutrient Assessment Lab, also known as the MAMA Lab. Kyly’s passion for maternal and infant care began in grad school where her doctoral research focused on a life-saving solution to address maternal thiamin deficiency and infantile beriberi in rural Cambodia. Since then, her research has expanded into a cross-cultural analysis of breastfeeding in Nova Scotia and Cambodia that goes beyond “breast is best” to focus on the supports required to achieve optimal health in both mama and baby.