A range of support for Walsall women who are starting, or continuing, their breastfeeding journey throughout the Covid-19 pandemic is being highlighted as part of Breastfeeding Celebration Week which starts today.
Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust usually runs face to face support group sessions but has now adapted to offer virtual clinics and consultations, ensuring contact is maintained and women still have somewhere to turn for advice and information.
In addition to skilled support from midwives, the Health in Pregnancy support team visits new mums on the postnatal ward at Walsall Manor Hospital to help get breastfeeding off to a good start and to help women feel confident before they go home. On day three of discharge a support worker trained in infant feeding calls new mums and can make arrangements for an e-clinic consultation if necessary.
The Infant Feeding Team is doing phone consultations and e-clinics while its community groups are currently unable to meet. The Infant Feeding Lead can arrange to see mums face to face if this is needed adhering to social distancing guidance. And a new facebook page Walsall Welcomes Breastfeeding has been created along with a Padlet resource sharing evidence-based information, useful tips and updates on local services.
Lindsey Perry, Infant Feeding Clinical Lead said: “This is obviously a concerning time for all but for new mums, who are already feeling vulnerable, it is particularly challenging.
“Breastfeeding Celebration Week is focusing on reassuring mums that they can breastfeed throughout the pandemic while reiterating infection prevention measures we should all be taking to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. While our face to face sessions have had to stop for now we want women and families to know that we’re still very much here for them.”
Hazel Brookes, Walsall Healthcare’s Infant Feeding Specialist Midwife, said: “There is a wealth of evidence that breastfeeding reduces the risk of babies developing infectious diseases.
“There are numerous live constituents in human milk, including immunoglobulins, antiviral factors, cytokines and leucocytes that help to destroy harmful pathogens and boost the baby’s immune system. There is no evidence at this time that Covid19 can be passed through breast milk. Therefore, considering the protection that human milk and breastfeeding offers the baby and the minimal role they play in the transmission of respiratory viruses, it seems sensible to do all we can to continue to promote, protect and support breastfeeding.
“To facilitate breastfeeding, mothers and babies should be enabled to stay together as much as possible, to have skin-to-skin contact, to feed their baby responsively and to have access to ongoing support when this is needed.”
The Padlet can be accessed via https://padlet.com/walsall_infant_feeding/2f30su5q62f37wns and an Instagram account Walsall_Infant_Feeding is also available. The Infant Feeding support service can be contacted on 01922 605248.