Campaign puts emphasis back on breastfeeding
As well as helping a woman bond with her newborn, breastfeeding has been shown to have a whole host of health benefits for mother and baby too, yet many mums in the region still prefer to bottle feed.
Breastfeeding rates in Britain are among the lowest in Europe. Last year, in NHS Norfolk's area, about 75pc of mums started to breastfeed their babies when they were first born, but by the age of six to eight weeks just 43pc of babies continued to receive breastmilk, and only 32pc remained exclusively breastfed.
Breasfeeding does not come easily to all new mums. Breasts can become engorged, producing too much milk and can leak. Nipples can become sore or even start to crack, and mums can develop infections such as mastitis and thrush.
But there is a wealth of support, advice and help out there for mums struggling to breastfeed.
And during National Breastfeeding Awareness Week, from June 19 to 25, NHS Norfolk and NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney are promoting the message: 'Breastmilk – every day counts, every feed counts, every drop counts'.
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This is to remind mums and professionals that every amount of breastfeeding contributes to giving babies the best nutrition possible for their immediate and future health.
Dr Jenny Harries, joint director of public health for NHS Norfolk and Norfolk County Council, said: 'Research suggests that children who have been breastfed may have a reduced risk of contracting stomach bugs, chest infections, asthma, eczema, and suffering allergies. Also, children who are breastfed are thought to be less likely to be obese when they get older.
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'Mothers benefit from developing a strong emotional bond with their child, can have a reduced risk of pre-menopausal breast and ovarian cancers, and are less likely to suffer hip fractures in later life.'
As well as support from health visitors, there are breastfeeding caf�s across Norfolk.
Sonya Moss, a health visitor from Norfolk Community Health and Care (NCH&C), said: 'There are lots of breastfeeding caf�s organised right across Norfolk to help support parents both before and after the birth of their child. Feedback from parents who attend the caf�s shows the opportunity to get together, make friends and support each other is really beneficial. Parents are able to learn from each other, share their experiences and support each other so they don't feel alone.'
Claire Norris, 30, from West Lynn gave birth to daughter Evelyn, who is now nine months old, at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King's Lynn.
She says: 'She took a little while to feed to start with but every single midwife on the maternity ward was so helpful in advising different positions. I had to express the milk initially. But as soon as she picked up the idea there was no looking back. Breastfeeding has given her all the benefits for the very best start in life. She is very forward and I'm sure it has helped her. 'My advice to other parents would be: it's the best thing you can do for your baby. As far as I'm concerned it's the only way.'
Health trusts are also trying to do their bit, and NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney Community Services, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King's Lynn NHS Foundation Trust and Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust have all achieved stage one accreditation for meeting UNICEF baby friendly standards.
For more information about support groups in your local area, parents should speak to their health visitor. Alternatively, call the NHS Norfolk and NCH&C Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) on 0800 587 4132.
The NHS Norfolk website has a map of breastfeeding groups across the county. Visit www.norfolk.nhs.uk/breastfeeding-map for details.
Mums in Great Yarmouth and Waveney can contact their breastfeeding team on 01493 852209 or find out more about baby caf�s at www.thebabycafe.org. Anyone who calls the team out-of-hours will be redirected to the 24-hour helpline.
For additional help and advice, call the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 0300 100 0212 or visit www.breastfeeding.nhs.uk