Knitters usually try to avoid mistakes, but one health trust is actively encouraging them to make a boob.

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The appeal is being made by Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust’s (NCH&C) children’s services teams, who are asking people to get out their knitting needles and get making some knitted breasts during National Breastfeeding Awareness Week this week.

The knitted accessories are used by a number of NCH&C’s skilled staff, including nursery nurses, community midwives, health visitors, and the family nurse partnership team, to help explain and demonstrate breastfeeding to new and expectant parents.

They can also help parents to get over any nervousness they may have about asking questions of their clinicians, as Amanda Wagg, NCH&C’s infant feeding lead and a health visitor, explains: “We use the knitted breasts to teach new and expectant mums and dads skills in breastfeeding their baby. They are also great icebreakers and really help us to engage with local families who can sometimes be a little shy or nervous about finding out about breastfeeding and other aspects of having a baby. But the number of knitted breasts we have available at the moment is falling, as some of our stock has become old and unusable through regular use. Some have even been eaten by people’s pets.

“So we need more and would really welcome some knitted donations in whatever colour and type of wool people have lying around. The design is quite simple, especially for experienced knitters, but the impact the finished article can have on putting parents at ease and helping them to understand the techniques and benefits of breastfeeding can really make a difference.”

Families in Norfolk have access to a wide range of expert help both during their pregnancy and after their child’s birth, and further improvements are being made.

The trust’s family nurse partnership service, which supports soon-to-be mums under the age of 18 from their early pregnancy all the way through until their child is two-years-old, recently celebrated its second anniversary. Since the service launched in 2010, it has increased breastfeeding rates, decreased the number of mothers smoking, and involved more fathers during the pregnancy. Meanwhile, NCH&C’s health visiting service has recently been recruiting more expert staff to support local families.

The knitted breast pattern and details on where to send your creations can be downloaded from: http://www.norfolkcommunityhealthandcare.nhs.uk/news/97/182/ Unusual-request-for-knitted-breasts

New or expectant parents can find out about the children’s services in their area by calling NCH&C’s Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) on 0800 088 4449.

Do you have a health story? Contact reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email kim.briscoe@archant.co.uk

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