There were celebrations at Hereford’s Courtyard Theatre for the Arts when health professionals got together with families from Herefordshire to celebrate International Breastfeeding Week.
Midwives, maternity support workers, health visitors, children’s centres, breastfeeding peer supporters and representatives from the NCT joined dozens of mums and their babies on Friday last week, July 28.
The occasion was made extra special as the Trust received the National Award for reaching their Level 2 Baby Friendly Status, demonstrating its commitment to breastfeeding and the fact that the Trust has achieved a high level of providing care along with evidenced-based advice and support for infant feeding.
Herefordshire has a very high number of mothers who start breastfeeding their new born babies – more than eight out of ten - but this drops to less than 50 per cent by the time the child reaches six to eight weeks,” said Arwen Nixon, Midwife and Infant feeding lead from Wye Valley NHS Trust, whose team organised the event.
“Research shows that the majority of these mothers stopped before they wished to, but with more support could have continued for longer. That why we’re running an awareness campaign and are helping support local mothers,” added Arwen.
Maxine Chong, head of midwifery at WVT, said: “The benefits of breastfeeding are well documented. These include boosting a baby’s ability to fight illness and infection and lowering the mother’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer.”
In a bid to support new mums by providing information and support, the Herefordshire midwifery team at the Trust has launched a new Facebook page.
This is in addition to a network of countywide community support groups co-ordinated by voluntary organisations and the introduction of the ‘Herefordshire baby friendly’ scheme.
“We’ve looked at how else we can create a wider culture of encouragement and support,” added Alice Lucken, the Health Visiting Infant feeding lead.
“We know that many women feel nervous about breastfeeding out and about and this can mean they choose not to breastfeed or that they stop breastfeeding before they want to.
“Concerns about breastfeeding in public - such as embarrassment and negative public attitudes - have been identified as one of the main barriers to breastfeeding.
“That’s why we’ve introduced the Herefordshire baby friendly scheme. By signing up to this scheme, local businesses and organisations can help show that they welcome and support breastfeeding families by displaying an easily recognisable sticker in their window and sharing information with their staff and volunteers about why breastfeeding is important and how it is protected.
“It’s important to remember that the right to breastfeed in any public place is protected by law and that most women only have positive experiences of breastfeeding out and about.”
The Trust has already canvased many cafes and premises in Hereford and is building on the cafes in Ross and Ledbury currently.
Any premises interested in joining the scheme should contact Kate Harding, breastfeeding support worker at WVT on Kate.firstname.lastname@example.org
“We’ve also been running a twitter campaign to publicise this scheme and generally raise the profile of breastfeeding and the support available in Herefordshire,” said Arwen.
Mums can keep up to date with the breastfeeding campaign by taking a look a the facebook page, Herefordshire Breastfeeding Information or contact breastfeeding support midwives on 07733 264 085.