Every Baby Deserves a Healthy Start
An initiative of the Montreal Diet Dispensary
Women living in a situation of poverty are at higher risk of giving birth to premature or low-weight babies, and such babies are more likely to have developmental, visual, hearing, psychological and learning problems.
The mothers who receive support from the Montreal Diet Dispensary (MDD) are very vulnerable and have many underlying pregnancy risk factors, above and beyond their lack of money. They are often without a partner and most come from other parts of the world.
The MDD works to help pregnant women in a situation of poverty give birth to healthy babies. It also promotes and supports breastfeeding, and helps empower mothers to take charge of their own as well as their family’s physical and mental well-being, while fostering their integration into society.
MDD’s primary activity is providing nutrition counselling according to the Higgins Method. The agency also offers complementary services that mothers use depending on their needs.
Each future mother consults with her dietician four to eight times during her pregnancy. Throughout this period, she receives a daily supplement consisting of one litre of milk, one egg, one vitamin and mineral supplement and one tablespoon of ground flax seeds.
The agency also offers mothers a range of group activities, discussion workshops and special events (community diners, parties and picnics) conceived for them and conducted in a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere. In addition to providing information about pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and baby care, these activities enhance mother-infant bonding and enable the mothers to acquire parenting skills, break their isolation and develop confidence in themselves.
What better than breastfeeding to give a baby a healthy start? At MDD, the promotion of breastfeeding begins well before birth, during prenatal counselling and group activities. Following the birth of their baby, mothers can seek help from lactation consultants, visit the breastfeeding clinic, or receive at-home support.
- The MDD has been serving the Montreal community since 1879.
- Each year, it offers nutritional and moral support to some 2,000 women in a situation of poverty during their pregnancy and the first months after their baby is born.
- More than 95% of MDD’s babies are born at a healthy weight and more than 95% of its mothers breastfeed (vs. 41% of Quebec mothers in a situation of poverty). What’s more, 77% of the mothers are still breastfeeding their baby six months after its birth (vs. 3% of Quebec mothers).
- An outstanding result in the field of baby health!
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