Breastfeeding 20% more likely with Gateway POWs

In the last quarter of 2012, 65 babies were born to clients of our Pregnancy Outreach Workers team, and 55 of those women initiated breastfeeding.

That’s 85%, compared to an average of 65% in the wider community*.

In December alone there were 17 births and 16 of the women initiated breastfeeding – a whopping 93%.

Increasing the rate of breastfeeding is something that’s important at both a national and local level, so we’re delighted to be doing our bit to reach the city’s targets.

Most clients want to breastfeed – they know it’s the natural thing to do and the benefits it brings – but sometimes they need just that extra bit of help. That’s why all of our POWs are trained in breastfeeding support as part of Unicef’s Baby Friendly Initiative.

Before the baby arrives, POWs give their clients lots of information, including leaflets and DVDs from the World Health Organisation and Unicef. Often, POWs will watch the DVD with the client so that they can explain or interpret it, talk about it and answer questions. We also run group sessions where POWs can demonstrate different breastfeeding techniques using dolls.

Sophia and Khadijah run a session at Springfield Children’s Centre. “It’s a six week course, where we show the DVD and give out handouts, as well as giving demonstrations of things like how to help baby latch on,” says Sophia. “We answer questions and discuss worries so that the mums are as prepared as possible. Then, for up to eight weeks postnatally, we visit mum and baby to give some extra support when they need it most.”

In this video of a typical breastfeeding group session run by the POWs, Colette uses a doll to show some different techniques for breastfeeding:

Another POW, Jacqui, says, “At the time of the birth, breastfeeding support is vital. We find that if the mother doesn’t get enough help and encouragement straight away, in the hospital, she’s more likely to start bottle feeding. That’s where POWs can really make a difference.”

Jahanara’s client had her baby on Sunday. “I was her birthing partner,” she explains. “Before the baby was born, the mum had told me that she wanted to breastfeed; this is her second child and she’d already told me how difficult she found it when she bottle fed her first baby. So I knew it’s what she wanted – but, after giving birth, she was so tired, she just didn’t want to do it. She wanted to give the baby a bottle. So I gently reminded her of everything she’d talked about before, and encouraged her to try again. Now she’s very happy to be breastfeeding.”

*published average breastfeeding rates for 2012 in the wards we cover. Source: Birmingham Public Health Health Inequalities Action Plan 2012.

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