Supporting Local Mums and Babies
Mums who are breastfeeding and would like some expert advice can now access specialist help after being discharged home.
The scheme, which was set up by Kay Horn, Breast Feeding Advisor and Corinne Neville, Breast Feeding Co-ordinator at The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust, offers all new mums telephone contact with a specialist and face-to-face support at drop-in clinics in their local area. Working closely the Early Years Health Visitor, they now also give information about local breastfeeding drop in support groups for West Essex.
Statistics show that while 74% of mums have opted to breastfeed whilst they are in hospital, only 45% are continuing after just two weeks at home.
Corinne said: “Breast feeding is normal but it is not always seen as the cultural norm which can mean some women have never even seen a mother breastfeed her baby. Just as with any new skill it can take both mum and baby a little while to get the hang of it. Add into the mix the exhaustion and emotions that most mums feel in the first few weeks, it’s important that if women want to continue that we are on hand to help them and that we are as accessible as possible.”
Information about breast and bottle feeding for those who choose to deliver at PAH starts at the antenatal stage so women can make an informed choice as soon as their baby arrives.
All the Trust’s midwives are trained to give specialist help and advice on feeding and once the new families go home, the support continues.
It has long been promoted that breast milk is better than formula, however the full benefits are not always known.
Babies who are breastfed have a smaller chance of:
• Developing allergies.
• Getting ear, chest and tummy bugs.
• Being constipated.
• Being obese and developing diabetes in later life.
Corinne added: “For premature babies, breast milk is really important as it can prevent a condition known as NEC (Necrotizing Enterocolitis). The disease which infects the intestines can sadly be fatal.
“For the last two years we have been actively encouraging mothers of premature babies to also breastfeed, supporting them to regularly express and maintain milk supply for their baby.”
There are advantages for mums who breastfeed too:
• Breastfeeding lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
• Breastfeeding naturally uses up about 500 extra calories a day.
• It saves money - formula feeding can cost as much as £45 a month.
• There is no need to clean and sterilise bottles, boil kettles and wait for the milk to cool.
National breastfeeding awareness week runs from 24th – 30th June. During the week, health visitors will be available in Mothercare on Edinburgh Way, Harlow, to answer questions, and teams of midwives will be available at most local antenatal clinics. Further advice is available at www.nhs.uk.