UK Birth Centres are thrilled to support and promote World breastfeeding week 2016. This year the theme is valuing our wellbeing from the very start of life, to respect each other and care for the World we share.
As a midwife my role is to respect each woman as an individual so the breastfeeding journey they each undertake will be unique.
The fact is indisputable that human milk provides the very best in nutritional as well as health protection for babies ensuring they have a perfect start.
The best way to ensure successful breastfeeding is to adopt baby-led feeding which means allowing the baby to feed for as long and as often as they wish. So feeding your baby when hungry is key to a happy, contended and thriving baby.
In the UK 81% of babies start off breastfeeding, by three months the proportion is 17% and at six months its 1% – and the steep decline is in no small part due to our intolerance as a society to breast feeding in public.
We at UK Birth Centres have a 98% initiation of breastfeeding rate at the time of birth, which is way above the national average. By adopting a case-loading approach, where the mother has her own midwife throughout, we are able to achieve breastfeeding rates of 100% of those mothers still breastfeeding when they are discharged form our care.
The mother has the same midwife all the way through pregnancy and that midwife is there for her at her birth and for a variable time after the birth depending on the mother’s request – anything from three days to six weeks with the average being four weeks.
I know that sadly many women are struggling these days and it is no small part to the lack of support in many instances. It is always worth promoting the idea that “it takes a village to bring up a child” – this is very true regarding breastfeeding. Help from friends, family and local breastfeeding groups will always be of benefit.
I have been a midwife for 30 years and have seen post-natal care in the NHS dwindle. When I was a community midwife 15 years ago we could visit women every day for 10 days – this is unheard of now.
It is through intensive preparation with the mums before the birth and our presence at the birth, delayed cord clamping, uninterrupted skin-to-skin time and allowing the baby time to latch without rushing the process. Being available 24/7 for advice and intensive support, this is how we help our mums to carry on breastfeeding.
Multi-Mam is very much part of our approach of nurturing and protecting, soothing and healing women through the various stages of breastfeeding. The compresses are a cool, healing balm that allows nipples to be soothed and adjust to the demands of a newborn baby.
We do help people out purely with breastfeeding struggles and are able to respond to women who are not already booked with us. It is my role to inform women about the best ways to ensure that breastfeeding is a wonderful experience.
It is the embodiment of caring for the world we share, providing the perfect food supply to babies without cost and with zero miles travelled to get it, bringing infants into the world with the optimal health benefits which may play a part in them turning into happy, healthy adults who can make a positive contribution to the world.
One of our mothers, Kathy, says: “Honestly it’s been a dream, I’ve not felt stressed or out of control at any point. It’s true it’s tiring and I can see how people might find it overwhelming at times but if you focus on the right things it’s just the best experience.”