*This post uses the terms ‘woman’ or ‘mother’ throughout. These should be taken to include people who do not identify as women but are pregnant or have given birth. Similarly, where the term ‘parents’ is used, this should be taken to include anyone who has main responsibility for caring for a baby.
Feeding can be hard, but you are not alone
In Hertfordshire, about 82% of mothers start off breastfeeding their baby. This number drops at 6-8 weeks; to an average of 62% of mothers offering any form of breastmilk to their baby at this stage. We support every parent in their choice as to how they feed their baby, however 8 out of 10 mothers stop breastfeeding before they would like too. Many mothers stop breastfeeding because of issues like sore or cracked nipples, sore breasts, or think that they do not have enough breastmilk. These issues can be eased or eliminated if you know where to get support and access the support quickly.
What is the Baby Friendly Initiative?
The UK Baby Friendly Initiative is based on a global accreditation programme of UNICEF and the World Health Organisation. It is designed to protect, promote and support breastfeeding and to strengthen parent and infant relationships by working with public services to improve standards of care. Developing these relationships is important for all babies not just those who are breastfed.
What does this mean for the Health Visiting service?
Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust (HCT) are a Gold accredited UNICEF UK Baby Friendly service as of March 2020, Our achieving sustainability (Gold) award celebrates excellent and sustained practice in the support of infant feeding and parent-infant relationships, and the Trust is audited annually by UNICEF Baby Friendly to ensure the maintenance of our accreditation.
Our aim is to improve the feeding experience and population health by providing specialist breastfeeding support to families, guidance to health professionals and by developing the HCP infant feeding community, including working towards a peer support programme. We work closely with, acting as a resource for, and providing training to the Family Centre teams across Hertfordshire.
Health Visitors are available before and after your baby is born. You may find it useful to have a discussion about feeding and caring for your baby during your pregnancy in order to be able to make your decisions. Once baby is born your Health Visitor can help with feeding after the initial support provided by the midwives.
If mothers need additional support, there are specialist breastfeeding clinics around the county we can refer you to. There are also infant feeding group running through your local family centres. In these sessions you can meet with other parents who may be having similar experiences. On occasions when a mother may experience low milk supply, the health visitor can arrange for a free loan of a double electric pump for a two week period to help overcome the issue.
Parents and carers can also contact ChatHealth, a text Messaging Advice Service for infant feeding support on 07480635164.
Resources are available for mums, partners, and family members – please reach out if you need some help.
Feeding Helplines and Digital Advice Tools
If you or someone you know is struggling with feeding a baby, please have a look through the resources below to see what support is available to you and how you can get in touch with them.
- The Breastfeeding Network– Peer support and information for women who are breastfeeding, parents and families. This helpline is open every day from 9.30am – 9.30pm: 0300 100 0210 or 0300 100 0212. Bengali/Sylheti Supporter line: 0300 456 2421
- La Lech League– Friendly breastfeeding support from pregnancy onwards; for all families at every stage of their breastfeeding relationship and in ways that work best for them. This helpline is open 24-hours every day: 0845 120 2918.
- Association of Breastfeeding Mothers (ABM)– Counselling with a highly trained volunteer who can provide up-to-date, accurate and evidence-based information to mums, partners, families – anyone who has a question or concern about breastfeeding. This helpline is open every day from 9.30am – 10.30pm daily: 0300 330 5453.
- Breast Feeding Friend – A digital tool from Start for Life that has lots of useful information and expert advise to share with you. It is available on Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Facebook Messenger.