Staff across the Trust are helping mums give their children the very best possible start in life as they celebrate National Breastfeeding Week, which started Saturday 20 June.
The week is an opportunity for mothers, breastfeeding supporters and health professionals to come together and share what works well to support breastfeeding in local communities.
Across the Trust, hundreds of staff from its maternity and healthcare services who have been trained to help with breastfeeding, along with around 200 volunteers, will be working together to promote the benefits of breastfeeding.
Sharon Tunnacliffe, Infant Feeding Co-ordinator, said: “Exclusive breastfeeding for six months provides the best health outcomes for mothers and babies. Breastfeeding matters because it provides protection against potentially serious illness for baby such as chest infections, gastroenteritis, allergies, diabetes and sudden infant death syndrome as well as asthmas, cardiovascular disease and many others. It also offers reduced risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and hip fractures in breastfeeding mothers.
“We want to encourage as many mums as possible to breastfeed and we’re here to help them with any problems they may have in feeding their babies.”
Last year, the Trust achieved international recognition for UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) when it achieved the prestigious Baby Friendly Award and has worked consistently to increase breastfeeding rates and to improve care for all mothers in the area.
Sharon explained: “We adopt a holistic approach to support all families with infant feeding. We have well-trained staff and that includes mother to mother supporters right up to senior staff who share the same training. All staff who come into contact with mums and babies – obstetric, maternity, neonatology and health visiting teams receive baby friendly training and support.”
In Dewsbury and Batley, a specialist breast feeding drop in is held at the Baby Café, Staincliffe and Health Children’s Centre, Chestnut Avenue, Staincliffe, Batley. The café is open every Thursday from 11am to 1pm so that mums can get the encouragement and advice they need to persist with breastfeeding, even if they are having difficulties at first.
Once a week mother can drop in to speak to midwives, community healthcare staff, other breastfeeding mothers, children centre staff and volunteers. Specialist breastfeeding support and information is also available.
One mum who regularly visits the Baby Café, Chantel Ratcliffe, said: “Being an older new mum I was worried that I would be unable to successfully breastfeed but I was determined to give it a good go.
“I had an emergency caesarean so needed some help to get my little boy latched on the first couple of sessions as I had difficulty moving myself round the bed. I had lots of encouragement from the midwives from the start and felt well supported.
“The hardest thing about breastfeeding is because you can't physically see how much they are feeding you tend worry you may not be producing enough, particularly if they are cluster feeding or hitting growth spurts. The Baby Cafes are a godsend.... friendly atmosphere where you can get reassurance from healthcare professionals, meet other mums and continue to gain confidence as a breastfeeding mum.
“Breastfeeding has been and continues to be one of the most rewarding and empowering things I have ever done. It's convenient, flexible and allows me those quiet bonding moments with my child that I will always cherish
The Baby Café is a partnership approach between the Trust, children’s centre and Locala health visiting teams.
Members of the midwifery and health visiting teams provide support for mothers in the Wakefield District Families and Babies (FAB) shop in Wakefield city centre. FAB is an organisation supported by the Trust that offers one-to-one support for all mums registered with a GP within the Wakefield and Pontefract areas.
FAB provides antenatal support including information and advice on breastfeeding and works closely with weekly support groups run in communities. There is a specialist breastfeeding clinic at the FAB shop on a Monday 10am to 12pm.
While the majority of new mothers would prefer to breastfeed, for some new mums it can prove a challenge. Thankfully there is plenty of support across the Trust’s services, including a tongue tie clinic at Pinderfields Hospital run by the Ear, Nose and Throat department.
Sharon added: “National Breastfeeding Week is a really great opportunity for us to talk to mums and mums-to-be about the importance of breastfeeding and what a fantastic start it can give a child.
“We hope every mum will join with us and celebrate the fantastic job that they are doing.”
- As part of National Breastfeeding Week, the Trust will be holding a breast pump amnesty. Any mum who still has a breast pump loaned to them by the Trust is asked to return it either to their local hospital (Pinderfields, Dewsbury or Pontefract) or to their community midwife.