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Bedfordshire mums urged to access breastfeeding support amid coronavirus

by User Not Found | Jun 05, 2020

This Breastfeeding Celebration Week, health visitors from Bedfordshire Community Health Services are urging mums to continue accessing support for breastfeeding if they need it. Mums are invited to make the most of new services available in light of COVID-19 to support them on their breastfeeding journey. They can either call 0300 555 0606 or text Bedfordshire’s Parentline on 07507 331456 to get advice from the health visiting service, and the option of a video consultation with the Baby Friendly Team is also available if needed.

Mums-to-be can also access a fully online version of Bump, Birth and Baby Stuff, the antenatal class run by health and care professionals from across Bedfordshire, which includes a full session on infant feeding.

Support from a health visitor, whether in person or online, can be a vital step towards helping a mother make the decision to continue breastfeeding her baby. Tonia, a mum from Bedfordshire, said: “I contacted the Health Visiting team in Bedford when my son was a month old, after experiencing pain and over supply while breastfeeding. As it was during lockdown, I was unsure of the support I'd have access to, but after a few video calls with Karen from the Baby Friendly Team I am still breastfeeding and going strong at 13 weeks! If any mum is struggling or in need of emotional support, particularly in these difficult times, I whole heartedly recommend contacting your health visiting team!”

Sarah Pickford, Baby Friendly Lead, said: “Breastfeeding is one of best ways mums can give their babies a healthy start in life, so it’s essential that we continue to help mums to breastfeed in the middle of a pandemic when it might feel even more difficult. That’s why our teams have been going above and beyond to adapt our usual package of infant feeding support in light of the coronavirus restrictions. We’re so proud of all they’ve achieved in a short time and under such challenging circumstances.”

Councillor Louise Jackson, Portfolio Holder for Health and Wellbeing in Bedford Borough, said, “Even during these unprecedented times, support is still available for mums. Breastfeeding can sometimes take time to get the hang of and is something mum and baby learn together. We’re lucky to have several breastfeeding support options that can help over the phone or online by video call. It’s important for mums to know that there is no evidence that coronavirus can be passed to your baby in breastmilk.”

Councillor Sue Clark, Central Bedfordshire Council Executive Member for Families, Education and Children, said: “Coronavirus has changed the way we all operate, and it means our Children’s Centres have not been able to host their usual Bump, Birth and Baby Stuff antenatal classes. We have worked in partnership with community midwives and the NHS Baby Friendly Team with support of a local parent to develop a solution.

“We have created a video version of Bump, Birth and Baby Stuff to help mums-to-be care for themselves and their babies. The centres are also working with the Baby Friendly Team to ensure all new parents are contacted, and offered support. In line with this Breastfeeding Celebration Week there is a video with advice for expectant mothers on feeding their babies in order to help give them a healthy start in life. 

Our Children's Centres are also still offering support and running many sessions and activities online via their Facebook pages, the links to which can all be found on our Family Information Directory.

From improving infant and maternal health to supporting a strong relationship between mother and baby, breastfeeding has been proven to have a huge range of benefits. There is currently no evidence to suggest that coronavirus can be carried or passed on in breast milk. The well-recognised benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of coronavirus through breastmilk.

These new services are a continuation of high quality support offered by health visitors from Bedfordshire Community Health Services, who were the first in the East of England to receive a Unicef UK gold award for their work back in February. This was in recognition of their hard work and numerous initiatives, from Baby Brasseries, to the breastfeeding peer supporter scheme, to the #FreeToFeed campaign promoting breastfeeding when out and about. Find out more about the Bedfordshire infant feeding team and what they do here.

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