Helping West Yorkshire mums give babies the best start

It's one of the biggest life changes most will face '“ and new mums in West Yorkshire are being given extra support as they adjust to motherhood.

Specialist health workers and volunteers are working in hospitals run by Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust as well as in the community to help.

Midwives in training are volunteering at Dewsbury and District Hospital to work with mums who don’t have family nearby to support them.

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And they’re helping support breastfeeding there and at Batley Baby Cafe, with the trust’s efforts having led to an increase of 15 per cent in breastfeeding initiation rates in the past five years.

Robina Paras, who volunteers for Dewsbury-based support charity Auntie Pam’s, uses her language skills on the maternity ward.

“I speak Urdu, English and Punjabi and some of the mums I meet are better able to talk to me than to a nurse. That means that I can support them and get them the help they need,” said Robina, who is at university.

Katie Leather is also studying and volunteers for Locala Community Partnerships at the Batley Baby Café within Staincliffe and Healey Children’s Centre, particularly encouraging mums to continue breastfeeding.

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She said: “Some mums feel they don’t get enough information while others think they get too much. It’s a very busy job but I help mums to position their baby better enabling baby to latch on properly.”

Helen Hartley, from Dewsbury, was close to giving up when she first went to the cafe when son Oscar was a week old.

“I found it really hard to breastfeed and then I heard about the café so I decided to come along, I’m so glad I did,” the first time mum said.

“Over six weeks I got lots of advice about how to get Oscar to latch on properly and different ways to feed him.”

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As well as the practical help, she said the social support had been invaluable: “I’ve made some lovely friends and I think we’re really lucky to have this help and support on our doorstep,” added the 33-year-old.

“I’m going back to work this month and I have talked to the team about how I can carry on breastfeeding, I know that they will be able to give me the confidence to be able to do this.”

Fidelma Chapman, community maternity support worker at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals, said: “Years ago we lived in much tighter-knit communities so you could pop down the road to see a friend or family member and share your feeding or parenting struggles. Things are different now and this café provides a great support network for the women that come, helping them to breastfeed their babies for longer.”