An array of new initiatives in Wakefield and Batley are to support new mums who want to breastfeed.
Wakefield has among the lowest breastfeeding rates in the country, with six out of ten mothers starting immediately after their baby is born but just three out of ten still breastfeeding six to eight weeks later.
Schemes to promote breastfeeding – which is the healthiest option for babies – have been rolled out by Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs hospitals in Wakefield, Dewsbury and Pontefract.
Today marks the start of Breastfeeding Celebration Week and health bosses have announced the opening of three new clinics in Wakefield.
The sessions in Hemsworth, Castleford and Sandal are run by infant feeding champion health visitors from the trust and breastfeeding peer supporters from UK charity FAB.
They were set up by specialist health visitor Ciara Metcalfe, who felt community support was lacking: “The aim of the clinic is to allow women to quickly receive the support they need with any breastfeeding problems.
“By having three clinics within the local community this allows the women to meet in a welcoming environment to share their experiences and contributes to building breastfeeding skills and culture in the Wakefield area.
“Whilst breastfeeding is the norm we are aware of practical, social and emotional barriers that prevent women from continuing and by developing an informed and supportive environment, we can enable those women who choose to breastfeed to continue for as long as they wish.”
Second time mum Claire Smith, from Glasshoughton, found the Castleford clinic invaluable with her seven-week old daughter Rebecca, as with her older son she expressed milk and bottle fed him.
“Thanks to the support from everyone at the clinic I’m more relaxed and content this time round which means I have a more contented baby,” she said.
“Breastfeeding is definitely a skill but once you master it, the benefits are tremendous. I would advise anyone who is struggling to seek out the support they need.”
Mums in Batley also have more support as five new breast pumps have been provided for the Batley Baby Cafe.
Sharon Tunnacliffe, infant feeding coordinator, said there were many reasons why mums might want to feed their milk using bottles: “The pumps will make a huge difference to so many of our mums.
“Pumps are expensive and I know there are women who would have given up breastfeeding if they hadn’t had the opportunity to express their milk.”
Mum Rebecca Law now volunteers at Batley Baby Cafe after being supported there.
The 32-year-old from Liversedge breastfed her son Elijah, now 20 months, until he was 18 months old but came close to giving up when he was small as she was in a lot of pain.
“I began expressing my milk when Elijah was just two weeks old,” she said.
“I came along to the café and got a huge amount of support from midwives, health visitors and other mums, which gave me the confidence to carry on.”
For more information: Visit www.thebabycafe.org.