Mum Jessica Hayes and baby James with the breastfeeding team in the Southern Trust.
Mothers instinctively want to breastfeed their baby, but many are apprehensive and unsure about feeding in the early days.
To mark World Breastfeeding Week (1st – 8th August), the wide-ranging teams within the Southern Health and Social Care Trust want to raise awareness of the help and advice available. Staff and volunteers are on hand to provide support and education to parents and their families so that they can successfully achieve their breastfeeding goals.
Sandra Hewitt, Infant Feeding Specialist Midwife, said that those who are struggling should talk it over with their midwife or health visitor and try to keep going as it can take a few weeks to get breastfeeding established.
“Research suggests that eight out of ten mothers stop breastfeeding before they want to and that’s a lot, the support is available and we want to raise awareness of where that support is.
“So remember, don’t give up on a bad day! Breastfeeding takes practice, you and your baby will practice together and it takes time to learn this new skill. Those who continue are glad they did, the health benefits for mum and baby are evidenced, as well as the many additional advantages.
"We would encourage mums to access some support to work through any difficulty, sometimes a small tweak really can make a big difference, as well as the support from groups to get out and about together with other new mums really helps.”
The Trust has a range of breastfeeding support options available to mums and their partners and families – antenatal classes, specific breastfeeding workshops, written/video resources, breastfeeding support groups and an amazing peer support team.
Trust has a range of breastfeeding support options available to mums and their partners and families – antenatal classes, specific breastfeeding workshops, written/video resources, breastfeeding support groups and an amazing peer support team.
All Trust midwives, maternity support workers and health visitors are also trained to provide breastfeeding support to UNICEF Baby Friendly standards across both the hospitals and community.
“Breastfeeding provides the best start in life and has a positive impact on a baby’s development, from strengthening immunity and reducing the risk of infections to emotional bonding and building long term mental and physical resilience,” said Sandra.
Mum-of-two Jessica Hayes, said that it was thanks to the support she received, that she was able to carry on feeding until she felt the time was right to stop.
“I was very lucky to not only have a partner who was supportive but also an amazing community midwife who guided and supported me when I was struggling to continue breastfeeding.
“In addition to the guidance from my community midwife, I was encouraged to attend a breastfeeding support group. I really felt the benefits of this group – it was great to be alongside other supporting mums who were not only enthusiastic about breastfeeding but also friendly and on hand to offer their advice and support,” said Jessica.
Caroline Keown, Assistant Director for Maternity, said; “Our team in the Southern Trust are amazing at encouraging and helping mums overcome any issues they may experience during their breastfeeding journey.
“Any period of breastfeeding, however short, will benefit your baby, but the maximum benefits are gained by feeding breast milk and nothing else until around six months, and then continuing to breastfeed along with their weaning diet until your baby is two years old or beyond.”
More information on the support available within the Southern Trust can be found at https://southerntrust.hscni.net/services/maternity-services/breastfeeding-support/