The recent Unicef report showed what I think most of us know – basically that breastfeeding is the best thing for baby and mum (less illnesses) and that:
- increased illnesses put more pressure on the NHS funds
- quality research into the benefits of breastfeeding is hampered by lack of money in the NHS
- effective services to increase and sustain breastfeeding is likely to provide a return within a few years, possibly one year
Firstly I have to emphasis how much I get from this. I totally love newborns and I get to see lots who are only a day or so old! They are like little feral creatures all screwed up, a little bit furry and not quite sure about the world they have entered into.
Surestart (Ashfield) have implemented a 72 hour call out service whereby the Peer Supporters call breastfeeding mums, who have consented to have their details taken, to see how they are getting along 72 hours after a baby’s birth – the time when most women give up breastfeeding. This usually coincides with the time when baby is getting hungry and mum’s milk is just coming in. All breastfeeding mums will recognise this time when you are tired, sore and vulnerable and baby is very hungry!
Up until recently it was the midwives or ward staff who would take the details from the mums, and these were passed on to Surestart to make the calls at the next breastfeeding support meeting. Several months ago the decision was made to invite Peer Supporters to take over this job. This, in my opinion, is a wonderful step forwards. Not only does it free up the ward staff but it also gives mums a great opportunity to meet another mum who has breastfed her baby and knows exactly how she feels.
So far the service has been a great success with the consents going from averaging 5 a week to 35! A seven fold increase! The service is particularly important for first time breastfeeding mums, although some mums who have already fed one baby successfully find the call useful as, let’s face it, you forget!
As well as taking the details I have been lucky enough to get a chance to see how breastfeeding is going and offer advice and support at the same time. I have realised it is really little things that can make a massive difference. In just the couple of times I have been on the ward so far there are the same themes that arise..
“My baby isn’t feeding much..” …. “Yesterday she fed loads but today it has been more sporadic”…
Just hearing someone say “that’s normal” makes such a difference to new parents who are searching for the answer. All babies are different and some don’t feed massively in the first 24 hours and it all depends on what pain relief the mother had in labour. Breastfed babies also don’t always fall into a natural pattern of feeding and sleeping every four hours either. I had one baby who was a dream sleeper/feeder and one that was the complete opposite catnapping and nibbling!
I think in some ways (and my completely non medical opinion!) the ward put a lot of pressure on new mums to feed a new baby in a pattern. One mum was expressing when the baby was one day old (surely that is just colostrum and you aren’t going to get much?) as baby wasn’t feeding “enough”. I guess whatever helps build up your milk supply is a good thing for whenever baby does get hungry though.
What are your opinions on the Unicef report? Do you have any tips to encourage breastfeeding for new mums? Would love to hear your thoughts..
I have lots of other breastfeeding posts here..