West Kelowna council will revist the breast feeding issue by month’s end

Political process is working, albeit uncomfortably, for West Kelowna councillor.

She hasn’t enjoyed the way she’s been portrayed in the wake of West Kelowna council’s decision to not immediately adopt Interior Health’s “Baby Friendly Initiative,” but Coun. Rosalind Neis does think the community dialogue sparked reflects well on the political process.

Neis called the Capital News to explain that she never said breastfeeding women shame bottle-feeding women, as was indicated in Wednesday’s cover story.

“Have you ever seen a mother brought to tears because she was seen not breastfeeding her child? I have,” said  Neis in the March 10 meeting, when the Baby Friendly Initiative was brought to council. She notably did not mention the gender of the person she saw doing the bottle-shaming.

Since those comments have been reported on, she’s been inundated with calls from nursing mothers who want her to know they breastfeed and also support women doing their best regardless of their feeding method, and that she too should support breast feeding.

It’s been frustrating.

For one, she’s a believer in breastfeeding, having nursed two of her own children. And two, she said she has legitimate concerns about the Baby Friendly Initiative, having to do with social and financial implications.

On the social side of the issue, as she said in council, Big brother is inundating the public with signs signs about how to conduct themselves in every respect. So much so, that common sense is being cast aside.

On the financial side, she pointed out that nothing is for free,

“The three nursing students did a great presentation, and at the end they said there was no cost,” Neis said. “I challenged them because there is a cost. I don’t know what it is, IH doesn’t release actual numbers for programs.”

Posters and stickers cost money, she pointed out, noting that Interior Health takes tax dollars to roll out programs

“Someone is paying for all this,” she said, adding that council fields hundreds of requests of this kind each year and she doesn’t agree with throwing in with all of them.

Also, it’s a doubling of resources. The health authority already puts a great deal of funding into their prenatal programs and helping new mothers breastfeed.

“The education is there,” she said.

While there have been some frustrating fallout from the meeting, Neis said there is a silver lining.

“It has brought the dialogue and the conversation on this issue which is a great thing,” she said. “If we had passed this through like Lake Country and Kelowna, we wouldn’t have heard anything. It’s council’s job to be clear about what they’re debating and discussing and because our council wanted to have a conversation the (community) is having a conversation about a very important topic.”

The matter will return to council March 24, and it’s expected the conversation about the issue will return. That  aligns with a Feed-in the parenting community have scheduled.