Tag: breastfeeding

Gateway POWs: breastfeeding figures are up again

Our figures for last year show that women supported by a Pregnancy Outreach Worker are more likely to breastfeed than the regional and national averages. Have a look:

Average number of new mothers who initiated breastfeeding:

Gateway clients 79%
Within the wards we cover 65%
Birmingham 69%
West Midlands 78%
Nationally 81%


Of those who initiated, those who continued to breastfeed at a week after birth:

Gateway clients 89%
Nationally 69%


Of those who initiated, those who continued breastfeeding after 6-8 weeks:

Gateway clients 69%
Birmingham 44%
West Midlands 31% – 54%
Nationally 55%

– Out of the 578 women we were supporting last year 197 had given birth by the end of March.  This is the data set used.

– Ward figures are taken from the Birmingham Health Inequalities Action Plan 2012, Birmingham.

– “Birmingham” is an average of the rates achieved in Birmingham’s three former PCT areas.

West Midlands figures are taken from Initiation, Uptake and Sustainability of Breastfeeding,  West Midlands Public Health Legacy Series, 2012,  Dept of Health.

– National figures are taken from the Infant Feeding Survey, 2010.

Why does POW support make a difference?

We think there are a number of reasons that support from a Pregnancy Outreach Worker results in an increased likelihood of a woman breastfeeding.

  1. Practical advice and training before the birth

    Unlike other services, POWs support most of their clients for the best part of a year. It means that they have plenty of time pre-natally to talk about breastfeeding and, where necessary, persuade mum to give it a try.

    All our POWs are UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative trained, so they can put on impromptu one-to-one or group training as required.  As they build relationships with their clients, they try and make sure that everything’s in place for the mother to be comfortable with the practicalities of breastfeeding well before she gives birth.

  2. The POW can be there immediately after the birth, even in the hospital

    Pregnancy Outreach Worker Sylvia says, “if they don’t try and breastfeed in the hospital, straight away, it’s much more difficult to start”. Caroline, who works with teenage mums, agrees: “We try and do as much preparatory stuff as we can before the birth – because it all gets so much harder afterwards.”

    The POWs know when their clients’ babies are due, so they check in regularly with them around the time. They aim to speak to them as soon as possible after the baby arrives, so they are there to answer questions. Many go to visit while mum is still in hospital and frequently, whilst there, they will give practical breastfeeding support.

    Once mum and baby are home, POWs can continue to give practical, hands on advice. They’ve already built up a relationship with the mother, which makes it much easier to offer this kind of help. They can also also provide lots of advice over the phone and often do this out of hours.

  3. Introducing clients to more support networks

    The ideal circumstances for a mother to breastfeed include the feeling that she has plenty of support from likeminded people. So POWs always  try and introduce their clients to the various networks and groups that are available to new parents – often taking them along to clinics themselves.

    Sharon, a POW, recently took a client to the Women’s Hospital breastfeeding workshop. Sharon says “It’s a good network to be part of – very informative and very pro-breastfeeding. At the drop-in clinic they can meet the breastfeeding co-ordinators and other mums for practical advice, and talk about their fears as well as the pros and cons of breastfeeding. They get the contact numbers of counsellors to phone for support. It gives them some structure as well as social support.”


Gestational Diabetes and Behaviour Change

Catherine was supporting a client who was referred for gestational diabetes.  The client knew that she had to change her lifestyle and was good about exercising but lack of money meant that she couldn’t have the best diet.  This was her first baby.

The client’s husband was self employed but was not getting any work.  They were not claiming benefits because they did not know what if anything they were entitled to.  Friends were helping them out with money and food but it wasn’t enough.  Not having any money meant that Catherine had to liaise with the landlord on her behalf because he was going to evict them due to rent arrears.

The client would speak to Catherine weekly about how she was progressing with her diet and exercise and Catherine thinks that it was almost motivational for her to have someone to tell about her progress.

She had been the victim of domestic violence in her previous marriage.  Catherine said that the client felt empowered because she had come out the other side a much stronger woman.  When she started to get benefits, with Catherine’s support, she insisted that they were paid into her bank account and not her husband’s.

She went on to deliver a healthy baby.


POWs get more mums to breast feed

19 year old Jess talking about why she wants to breast feed.

Our latest statistics show that 70% of our mums started breast feeding, compared to 68% across Birmingham.

Most people agree that breast feeding is the best start for any baby. They got all the nutrients they need, it helps give them a strong immune system. It’s so important that UNICEF’s ‘Baby Friendly’ initiative is promoting it around the world. And we always encourage our new mums to breastfeed. Some of them say they don’t want to, but we find that’s because they don’t know how good it is for their babies and how good it is for them.

Some mums simply aren’t confident about trying it, they say they won’t do it right, and sometimes they do find it a bit difficult, and don’t have enough support to get it established.

We visit mums before they give birth to let them know what to expect, and then once the baby’s arrived we visit them at home to answer any questions and help them with any problems.   We always encourage mums to give it a go and then support them so they keep going.