“I know how mums feel – I’ve been where they are and totally understand that motherhood can be overwhelming at times. But support can make all the difference.”
Rachel Astle is a Breastfeeding Support Worker with Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust and she is relishing the role that she started in November.
“If someone had told us over a year ago that we’d be trying to find our way through a worldwide pandemic we would have found it so hard to imagine but that’s the reality for our mums and mums-to-be at the moment,” she said.
“They are understandably worried and scared. And these emotions are also competing with the hormones and changes that affect women after giving birth so they have such a lot to contend with.
“I have worked in the community so I have seen things from both sides – from the point of view of new mums trying to manage at home and from the point of view of maternity services staff juggling a number of priorities which doesn’t give them as much time as they’d like to be able to support new mums on their breastfeeding and infant feeding journey. This is where I hope to be able to make a difference.
“There are so many benefits to breastfeeding; it reduces the risk of your baby developing infections because it contains nutrients that protect them and boost their immune system. It is also portable and free!
“I breastfed my two daughters who are now ten and seven and I know how important it is to have support. Mums need to be reassured that it’s common to have problems such as struggling to get baby to latch on properly or blocked milk ducts. These things can seem absolutely overwhelming because as a new mum you want so desperately to do your best and you’re tired and emotional. I want to be here for mums so that these things don’t seem impossible to get through and they reluctantly give up trying to breastfeed. It is so important for mums to have all the information and help they need to be able to make the right choices for their babies.
“Mums need to know that we’re here for them – we might have to socially distance and wear PPE but we are definitely in their corner!”
Rachel is also proud of the work being done within Maternity and Neonatal Services as part of the trust’s ambition to achieve full Baby Friendly Initiative accreditation.
The Unicef UK (United Nations Children’s Fund) Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) is a global programme which provides a practical and effective way for health services to improve the care provided for all mothers and babies. In the UK, the initiative works with health professionals to ensure that mothers and babies receive high-quality support to enable successful breastfeeding.