Next week is World Breastfeeding Week, so for this week’s Friday Story we thought we’d ask our Pregnancy Outreach Workers (POWs) for their expert advice on breastfeeding.
All of our POWs are trained in breastfeeding support as part of Unicef’s Baby Friendly Initiative. A POW will work with a client for around a year altogether, building up the sort of relationship where their practical advice will be welcomed and listened to.
And we know it works: women supported by a Pregnancy Outreach Worker in Birmingham are more likely to breastfeed than the city averages. In the last contract year (April 2014 – March 2015), 76% of POW clients initiated breastfeeding, compared to 75% of new mums in the city overall. More importantly, they’re much more likely to maintain their breastfeeding than other new mums in the city: 62% of our clients continued to breastfeed and were still doing so at 6-8 weeks post birth, compared to a city average of just 43%.
This is even more impressive when you consider that our service is targeted on areas of high deprivation and some of these wards have a significantly lower average in terms of breastfeeding initiation.
Why breast is best!
By Pregnancy Outreach Workers, Khadijah Irving and Tynika Butler.
The main reason breastfeeding is better than bottle feeding is the convenience. It’s just so much easier to breastfeed compared to the hassle of constantly buying and preparing bottles, equipment and formula.
When you wake up in the night, what’s easier?
- Getting out of bed, going downstairs, boiling the kettle, sterilising a bottle, making up the feed, cooling it down by putting the bottle into two or three changes of cold water… and all the time soothing your crying baby? Or…
- Simply picking baby up and lying back down in bed to breastfeed?
BENEFITS TO BABY
Breast milk is the best food your baby could possibly have. It is naturally tailored to baby’s needs, right from the first milk you produce (colostrum). It contains all the nutrients baby needs, when it needs them, and your baby will have a much lower risk of illness (gastrointestinal infection, urinary tract infection, constipation, etc) as a result.
The skin to skin contact you get when you breastfeed is really important too. It helps to build a strong physical and emotional bond with your baby.
No competition here. Breast milk is free! Formula milk is about £10 a tin, and then you need to factor in bottles and equipment too.
It’s not widely known, but there’s also a cost at the hospital; if you want to bottle feed, they’ll provide you with disposable sterilised bottles, but you will have to pay for them.
Many of our clients use Healthy Start vouchers, and you can use these to buy powdered formula, but you must take into consideration that you only get £3 of milk tokens. When a tin of formula costs £10, and you have to make up the rest of the money yourself, AND buy the bottles, teats, sterilising stuff, cleaning brushes… it soon adds up.
Here’s a benefit for mum: breastfeeding is good for weight loss! Your stomach will appear flatter quicker because, as you breastfeed, it contracts the womb. You’re also losing up to 500 calories every time you do a feed. You’ll be back in those jeans sooner than you think!
Watch a breastfeeding demo
Finally, here’s a video from another one of our Pregnancy Outreach Workers, Shazia, with some demonstrations of breastfeeding positions and latching-on techniques… with a little help from her knitted “breast”!