New data is showing local healthcare about the benefits of breastfeeding.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit announced the data Wednesday, saying healthcare partners can now go to the Health Unit’s Health Professional Web Portal to support efforts to increase local breastfeeding rates.

 “Healthcare partners are in a prime position to ensure parents are educated and empowered to make an informed decision about feeding their babies,” Associate Medical Officer Dr. Lisa Simon said. “They can play a pivotal role, including supporting exclusive breastfeeding up to six months as recommended by Health Canada and the World Health.”

Data from the SMDHU shows that although 85% of parents-to-be say they plan to breastfeed their babies exclusively, the reality is that many do not meet their goals within the first few days after birth.

It also notes that breastfeeding continues to drop off significantly in the first weeks after birth.

These findings, along with other local infant feeding data from before birth up to six months are highlighted on the Feeding Babies in Simcoe Muskoka webpage and accompanying infographics.

 “Despite their desire and efforts to breastfeed, some parents need extra support,” Dr. Simon said. “Research tells us it can be more challenging for moms and families who deliver by C-section, have a birth preterm, are first-time parents, are over 35 years of age, and those who live with an annual income of less than $60,000.”

The health unit adds that breastfeeding is important for nutrition and the growth and development of infants and toddlers.

It also has a long-lasting impact on the health of the child and the breastfeeding parent.

For more information on infant feeding visit the health unit website.