New service for new mums in North Yorkshire

Posted on: Friday 13 Jan 2017

Jane Webster, HDFT Health Visiting Professional Lead (back row second from left) and Katie Needham, Consultant in Public Health (back row third from left) pictured with the Health Visitor’s, Children’s Centre Staff, and mums and babies at the Thirsk Breastfeeding Support Group.

A breastfeeding support service for new mums is being rolled out in North Yorkshire County Council’s children centres and community venues, with breastfeeding groups benefiting from support from Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust (HDFT) health visitors.

“Breastfeeding is a great way to get your baby off to a good start” said County Councillor Janet Sanderson, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Children’s Services. “Although it’s a natural process, breastfeeding is a skill that has to be learned by mothers and babies. We know that many people can find breastfeeding challenging in the early days, so we have made changes to our service for new mums across the County, so that good quality support and help is at hand.

“Breastfeeding protects babies against a wide range of serious illnesses including stomach and chest infections in infancy, and can help prevent heart disease, asthma and diabetes in later life. We also know that breastfeeding reduces the mother’s risk of some cancers – as well as being easier, cheaper and simply less trouble than bottle feeding.

“We also want to ensure that all mums are supported to form a strong, loving relationship with their baby – whatever their choice of feeding method.”

The new approach to breastfeeding support comes as the County Council and HDFT’s Health Visiting Service work towards Stage 2 UNICEF Baby Friendly Accreditation, the recognised accreditation programme for the promotion and support of breastfeeding. The Trust delivers the County Council’s 0-5 Healthy Child Programme, which aims to help every child in the county have the best possible start in life.

Joint Stage 1 Baby Friendly Accreditation was achieved in April 2016 and as part of this, staff in both organisations have been trained to UNICEF standards. Health visitors now provide clinical support for breastfeeding, and a team of health visitor champions are in place to offer additional advice when needed. Children’s centre staff also have the skills to provide breastfeeding information and support and will deliver the new local groups with HDFT health visiting colleagues.

These groups will offer a welcoming environment for new and expectant mums to meet other breastfeeding mums and form a social network. Children’s Centre staff will be at the group to help with breastfeeding issues and members of the Health Visiting Team will also be available for advice and information.

Deborah Stuart, Community Infant Feeding Co-ordinator for HDFT, said: “Implementing Baby Friendly  best practice standards across North Yorkshire is a very exciting opportunity as it ensures families can receive consistent advice to enable them to make informed decisions around infant feeding and parenting practices. We are really pleased to be working with North Yorkshire County Council and its partners to promote this vital information to new mums and their families.”

New parents or parents-to-be wanting to find out more about breastfeeding support groups across the County can do so by contacting their health visitor or children’s centre team or by visiting the County Council website for an interactive map of breastfeeding support across North Yorkshire: