Supporting mothers to breastfeed
To mark World Breastfeeding Week, midwives and lactation consultants Jayne Threlfall (above) and Sandy Jackson (right) will be working with breastfeeding champions at the Princess Anne Hospital and the New Forest Birth Centre to support, protect and promote breastfeeding in and around Southampton.
In this blog, they discuss the support they offer to mothers who choose to breastfeed, as well as an exciting new photo exhibition.
There is powerful evidence that breastfeeding saves lives, improves health and cuts costs in every country worldwide (Lancet, 2016), yet the UK has some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world and even those mothers who start breastfeeding often stop before they want to.
In our roles at UHS, we find that support is one of the most important factors in determining whether a mother is able to breastfeed her child. Research has shown that eight out of every ten mothers who choose to breastfeed their babies stop before they want to. In many cases, if women receive the right support at the right time, they will go on to breastfeed successfully.
In Southampton, we recognise the importance of supporting mothers who wish to breastfeed. They are encouraged to have uninterrupted skin to skin contact with their baby for at least the first hour after they’re born, as this is the time when the baby is most likely to latch on to the breast. The earlier the baby feeds, the better chance of longer term success with breastfeeding, and it’s also a great opportunity for mothers to bond with their new babies, however they plan to feed.
For mothers who need extra help to breastfeed, we offer a wide range of support options. For the first two weeks after their babies are born, mothers can attend our Breastfeeding Babes group every weekday morning for help and advice from our expert team. We also make sure that mothers go home with a link to the ‘Feeding your baby’ page on the Trust’s website, which has lots of information and details of breastfeeding support groups in the community. At the Princess Anne Hospital and the New Forest Birth Centre, there are also services for babies who have difficulty feeding because of a tongue-tie.
When we talk to new mothers about breastfeeding, they sometimes tell us that they feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public. It’s legal to breastfeed in any public place, including on public transport, but many people aren’t aware of this simply because they rarely see someone breastfeeding in public. This is why we've linked up with photojournalist Paul Carter to create a photo exhibition of women breastfeeding in iconic places around Southampton. The photos will be on display at different locations around the city, including the Princess Anne Hospital, and can also be viewed online here.
If you’re looking for places that welcome breastfeeding mothers, visit the Breastfeeding Welcome Scheme website. Breastfeeding friendly locations in Southampton include the Guildhall, Westquay shopping centre and the SeaCity Museum!
Follow us on Twitter @UHSFT this week for more on World Breastfeeding Week, including a breastfeeding FAQ with Sandy on Thursday, 2 July.
Photo of mother breastfeeding by the city walls used with permission from Southampton City Council (© Paul Carter, 2018).