Guest blog: Involving the whole community in breastfeeding support in Coventry
This week is National Breastfeeding Celebration Week, and we’re celebrating how everyone can support mothers to breastfeed, whenever and wherever they are. To showcase some of the great work going on around the country, we’re sharing guest blogs from people writing about their experiences of being supported to breastfeed and helping others to do the same. Today’s blog is written by Helen, celebrating the range of breastfeeding services working in partnership in Coventry to support mums and families and influence the wider breastfeeding culture. Share your breastfeeding support stories using #celebratebreastfeeding on social media.
“As a first time mum, my initial experience of breastfeeding was that it certainly wasn’t easy! It was a real surprise to find how little breastfeeding is actually valued or supported in our society. Despite the social pressure on me to not breastfeed my children at the time, I am very glad that I listened to my heart. I feel that it has benefited my children and me immensely.” Coventry mum
Breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways of giving every child the best start in life. However, mothers cannot always do this alone. We need to work together as a community so women feel comfortable and able to breastfeed. Breastfeeding Celebration Week is a time to recognise the work done across the country to help support mums and families and influence the culture around breastfeeding.
Here in Coventry we are a very diverse, rapidly growing city. We therefore have a range of services working with mums to help feed their babies and be positive about breastfeeding. We would like to share with you some of our successes.
Positive response from parents
We have a video of the infant feeding work done in the city. Coventry Infant Feeding Team offer a range of services to help support families to build close and loving relationships with their baby, including friendly breastfeeding groups across the city and home visits.
“When I came out of hospital, I did really struggle [with breastfeeding] for the first few days … If it hadn’t been for the support of the team, I possibly would have given up.” Infant Feeding Team service user
As well as helping mums with their infants, we are also inspiring them to help and offer support to other mums.
“My breastfeeding experiences have made me very passionate in wanting to support other mothers on their breastfeeding journeys. I have done peer supporter training with the infant feeding team and volunteer with them. I also run my own breastfeeding support group Boobie Buddies as an Association of Breastfeeding Mothers breastfeeding counsellor and have recently started to help out on the National Breastfeeding Helpline now that I have finished my breastfeeding counsellor training.” Infant Feeding Team service user
One of the reasons for success in Coventry is a range of services working together in partnership to help mums and their families. This includes treating each mum like an individual. A special child and maternal service, MAMTA, has been set up specifically to support ethnic minority women and women from new communities, with translators available and women-only sessions held to answer all questions.
“I am new to the country, having arrived here in 2015. I attended MAMTA sessions during my pregnancy and I loved it because they gave me beneficial messages around breastfeeding in my language which really helped me. I feel happy about the choice I have made and feel confident breastfeeding my baby. I love the relationship we have and breastfeeding has helped with that.” MAMTA service user
We are getting support from across the city of Coventry by encouraging local shops and cafes to be breastfeeding friendly, and have produced a directory to give to new mums.
“We have recently updated our Breastfeeding Directory which lists cafes and restaurants in the city welcoming breastfeeding mums and families. This leaflet can be found online or paper copies are also available at our Central Library in Coventry.” Infant Feeding Peer Support Co-ordinator
Unicef UK Baby Friendly Accreditation
The proportion of mothers initiating breastfeeding in Coventry is now higher than the England average.
“We are so thrilled that all the dedication, passion, hard work and breastfeeding promotion in Coventry has recently earned the health visiting service the prestigious Unicef UK Baby Friendly Accreditation Award, which recognises our high standard of breastfeeding services and support for new mums and their families. This is a fantastic achievement and a sterling example of collaborative partnership working by everyone involved.” Carmen Baskerville, Infant Feeding Lead for Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership Trust
We look forward to continuing to work with mums in Coventry to improve their care.