This World Breastfeeding Week (1-7 August), health organisations in Sefton are working with Sefton Council to reassure new parents that there is still infant feeding support available during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and that group sessions and one to one support are now back up and running.
They are also raising awareness of the health and wellbeing outcomes of breastfeeding around the world supporting mothers to breastfeed.
Breastfeeding is scientifically proven to improve outcomes to both mother and baby. Studies show that breastfeeding can:
- help babies fight infections and illnesses
- help strengthen the bond between mother and baby
- lower the risk of diabetes, osteoporosis, and breast cancer
Chrissie Cooke, chief nurse for NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Southport and Formby CCG, said: “Any amount of breastfeeding is beneficial, so whilst we recommend for optimum growth and development that babies are given nothing but breast milk for the first six months (26 weeks) of their life, we know that this is not always possible.
“Whether you are breastfeeding or using first infant formula there is local advice to support you in your choice.
“However, if you have any problems or concerns with breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, your midwife, health visitor or breastfeeding specialist can help.”
Led by volunteers, the Sefton Breastfeeding Support Service provides practical and emotional support to expectant and new mothers – call 0151 291 8010 from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
There are two group drop-in sessions that new parents or pregnant women can attend, and these are held in Southport and Netherton:
- Friday 1-3pm, Netherton Feelgood Factory
- Thursday 9.30am – 11.30am, The Hart Space, Southport
New mums can also arrange one to one sessions by calling the service and their Facebook page ‘Breastfeeding Support Sefton’ has lots of useful information and support for new Mums.
One mum in Sefton went to the group for the first time recently and said: “We went to the feelgood factory today for our first time at the support group and so glad we went and got to speak to some people there and go through some questions prior to us having the baby.
“Also, I feel glad that I can go there if I need support or have any questions once the baby is here.”
Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing said: “In March this year, Sefton was awarded full Baby Friendly Initiative Accreditation by the Baby Friendly Initiative.
“This means families can feel confident that care and support with infant feeding choices and relationship building is available locally. This includes a Specialist Infant Feeding Service, which provides families with complex feeding challenges can with expert support from infant feeding specialists and lactation consultants.”
You can contact your Health Visiting Team here: www.merseycare.nhs.uk/our-services/south-sefton/health-visiting-team and families with more complex feeding issues can be referred to the Specialist Infant Feeding Service if needed.
The National Breastfeeding Helpline can be reached on 0300 100 0212 from 9:30am to 9:30pm every day. The Start4Life Breastfeeding Friend chatbot is also available any time day or night for fast, friendly, trusted NHS advice.”
If you have any questions, concerns, or need some advice (whether you are breastfeeding or using first infant formula), call the NCT helpline (0300 330 0700).
This year, the concept of building back better after the COVID-19 pandemic is being seen as an opportunity to create a ‘warm chain’ of support for breastfeeding. This ‘warm chain’ includes health systems, workplaces, and communities at all levels of society and will help build an environment that enables and support for breastfeeding.
Cllr Moncur added: “Covering pregnancy, labour & delivery, early contact, the postnatal period and then the first 24 months of the child’s life, the warm chain covers places the mother and baby at the core through a 1,000-day timeline.
“Academics, health workers, family members, GPs, midwives, nurses, nutritionists, obstetricians and gynaecologists and paediatricians and politicians at local and national levels are all key links in that chain.
“Through that joined-up approach we can support the health and welfare benefits that breastfeeding provides for babies, mothers, families and communities right around the world, as well as the nutrition, poverty-reduction and food security advantages it brings.”
The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) is a global network that aims to protect, promote and support breastfeeding around the world. Along the way, it works with the World Health Organization and UNICEF to ensure its aid reaches the right people in the right communities.
For NHS Coronavirus advice for parents, visit: https://www.nhs.uk/start4life/baby/coronavirus-covid19-advice-for-parents/
For NHS information about the benefits of breastfeeding, visit: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/benefits-breastfeeding/
For NHS advice and guidance about bottle-feeding, visit: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/bottle-feeding-advice/