New walk-in clinic available for nursing mothers on P.E.I.

The P.E.I. Breastfeeding Coalition is applauding a recent boost in support for nursing mothers: the establishment of a walk-in breastfeeding clinic. 

Public Health Nursing launched the pilot project earlier this month in Charlottetown.

Jillian MacKeeman, a member of the P.E.I. Breastfeeding Coalition, says the establishment of a clinic like this has been a goal of her group for decades. 

"We have very few lactation consultants and often people don't even know where to go to access support and help," said MacKeeman. 

"So having a breastfeeding clinic where you can just walk in, you don't have to make an appointment, you don't even have to make a phone call, I think it's huge, especially when you're a tired new mom who just needs a bit of support."

Removing barriers 'a really big deal'

The clinic runs twice a week, on Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to noon, out of the Public Health Nursing office at the Sherwood Business Centre in Charlottetown. 

Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC

Nursing mothers are welcome to drop in and connect with both a nurse and lactation consultant on everything from weight gain to latch issues to sore nipples. 

"Removing barriers and having free access is a really big deal," said MacKeeman.

Dr. Megan Armstrong, a family physician who helped establish the new walk-in clinic, agrees. "Breastfeeding can be really hard," she said. 

Timing is crucial with breastfeeding support

"When you're responsible for feeding this child, keeping this child alive, and it's not working, that's frustrating and you need help and when you need it — you need it quickly," said Armstrong.

Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC

The clinic is being offered in addition to existing support for breastfeeding moms, including home visits from public health nurses or appointments at public health nursing clinics across P.E.I. 

"This just provides another access point for people who are looking for some support or help with their breastfeeding journey," said Kaitlyn McQuillan, a public health nurse in Charlottetown who hopes nursing moms won't hesitate to give the new drop-in clinic a try. 

Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC

"It can be as simple as weighing their baby," she said. "Some reassurance to know that things are going okay."

Officials with Public Health Nursing say over the next six months they're going to gather statistics and feedback on the pilot and will use that information to determine the next step — including whether to establish something similar elsewhere on the Island.

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