Breastfeeding can have many health benefits for both mother and baby. These include protection for babies against ear and chest infections, stomach upsets, diarrhoea, asthma, eczema, allergies and even obesity. Breastfeeding mothers have been found to be less likely to develop some cancers and weak bones later in life.
But we know that mothers – and their partners – are often bombarded with information at a busy time when they are trying to get to know their new baby.
Therefore, on top of the advice and reassurance provided by community midwives, health visitors and other clinicians, the NHS and its partners in south east London provide infant feeding support groups. Today, the start of World Breastfeeding Week, we thought it was a good time to talk about the groups.
Infant feeding support groups provide a safe and comfortable environment for parents looking for support with starting, continuing or stopping breastfeeding. Trained peer supporters can answer questions or give reassurance. They usually take place each week and double up as a great opportunity to chat with other parents in a safe space. Some even hold monthly walking groups and other social activities.
The Breastfeeding Network (BfN) provides an NHS-funded peer support service in Lambeth and will be doing the same in Lewisham and Greenwich from the autumn. BfN is a registered charity with more than 25 years’ experience in providing such services – while campaigning around breastfeeding issues and influencing policy. In partnership with the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers, it runs the National Breastfeeding Helpline – which is staffed by mums who have breastfed and are trained in breastfeeding support.