Midwives promote benefits of breast milk during World Breastfeeding Week

MIDWIVES at Bradford Teaching Hospitals are celebrating World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7) by promoting the benefits of breast milk.

In these pandemic times, the immunity babies receive from their mother’s natural breast milk can only be a bonus, as it helps build protection against many illnesses and ailments.

Infant Feeding Co-ordinator and Specialist Midwife, Rea Halstead (pictured), who is based at Bradford Royal Infirmary (BRI), said: “Breast milk has many benefits and in this COVID-19 era we should do all in our power to protect and do our best for our babies to give them the best start in life.

“By feeding your baby breast milk, you are helping transfer natural immunity from mother to child and this, in turn can reduce the likelihood or severity of many illnesses as the baby inherits protection from the mother’s immune systems through the milk.

Learned skill

“Breastfeeding doesn’t always come naturally to mums as it is a learned skill for both mums and babies  so it can take time and effort to master but there’s lots of support and help out there so that mum’s can persevere and babies can reap the benefits.”

Nearly 70 per cent of the 5,500 women who give birth at BRI each year breastfeed their babies initially, but Rea would like this to be even higher.

“My role is to help protect and support women’s choices when it comes to feeding and hopefully from September, we will re-start feeding clinics and host drop-in sessions for new mums,” she added.

“This World Breastfeeding Week, we are also focusing on how partners, the wider family and healthcare colleagues here at the hospital can support new mothers to breastfeed.

Emotional bond

“Breastmilk is specifically designed for your baby and also helps build a strong emotional bond between a mother and baby. The emotional and practical help a woman receives from the people around her can make a huge difference to the breastfeeding experience and opportunity to bond with the new baby.

“Colostrum: the nutrient-rich fluid produced by a woman immediately after giving birth, is absolutely amazing, it is loaded with immune, growth and tissue repair factors, and is perfectly made by a woman’s body for that specific baby. Knowing that babies feed little and often because their tummies are as small as a marble in the first few days is essential in managing feeding expectations in the early days and weeks.”

Throughout the awareness week, Rea and her colleagues will be promoting the support available locally for those who are breastfeeding and for those who are considering breastfeeding their baby.

The Trust is also working towards the Unicef UK Baby Friendly accreditation and has put a Baby Friendly Guardian, in place, Executive Director Mark Holloway, who is responsible for ensuring that all new facilities are in line with creating a baby-friendly and breastfeeding-friendly environment.

More information about breastfeeding and support is available here.