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Breastfeeding woes

TYNE VALLEY - Erica Wagner wants the best for her daughter.  

New mother, Erica Wagner, watches her infant daughter, Ariya, sleep. Wagner, who is breastfeeding her daughter, was shocked to find that there was no listing of breastfeeding-friendly places on P.E.I. to be found.

That's why, after learning of its benefits, the new mother opted to breastfeed.But when it came time to leave the comforts of home - and to nurse her daughter while on the go - the Tyne Valley woman was left frustrated and bewildered.

Where are nursing-friendly places located in Prince County?

"I don't know where to do this," said Wagner, whose daughter, Ariya, born Feb. 4, was a week old at the time. "A basic amenity is a place to feed your child."

A Google search that day turned up nothing.

"I ended up doing it in the car in the parking lot of Home Hardware. My dad was nervous about where to park. It was so uncomfortable," added Wagner.

"It just made me think, I shouldn't be this uncomfortable to care for my child. I shouldn't be in this position. There should be places you can go."

Finding those places isn't easy. Like Wagner's search of the Internet, an extensive one done by this paper found no listing of breastfeeding-friendly places in Summerside or of locations in the province.

Summerside does not have a listing of breastfeeding-friendly locations on its website, nor does the P.E.I. chapter of the La Leche League of Canada, Health P.E.I. or the P.E.I. Breastfeeding Coalition.

"While we do not have a list of baby-friendly locations on P.E.I., various locations have signage to indicate that they are baby-friendly," Health P.E.I. spokesperson Samantha MacKinnon wrote in an email.

She did not provide a list of these locations.

"That's a resource that should be compiled and made available to moms, given to them when they are leaving the hospital," said Melanie Walsh-Fraser, a leader with the P.E.I. La Leche League.

She was surprised such a resource didn't exist.

"Babies deserve to be fed in clean, comfortable, safe environments," she added. "Our position is anytime, anywhere."

Summerside's Family Place provides breastfeeding mothers a place, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., to comfortably nurse their children.

"Anytime we are open, people are welcome to come in," said Lori Clark.

They also have a breastfeeding mothers group that meets every Wednesday.

Wagner now looks to a resource - the Facebook group P.E.I. Breastfeeding Mothers -to help answer questions. The group has more than 700 members.

She hopes someone takes the initiative to compile a list of nursing-friendly sites and that more sites become available.  

Clark agreed.

Other than the Family Place, Clark added, "In Summerside, I can't think of any place, to be honest."

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