A new Public Health campaign has been launched to encourage mothers to breastfeed for longer and give their baby the best start in life.
Public Health England’s Start4life campaign, which is supported by Wiltshire Council, aims to highlight the benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and baby, and to encourage women to feel comfortable about breastfeeding in public.
Breastfeeding not only gives babies a health ‘superboost’, reducing the risk of the baby getting ill and picking up an infection, but because it is something mum and baby learn together, it can be a great way of bonding too. New findings from Start4life show that the majority of the general public endorses a woman’s right to breastfeed in public, with three quarters (72%) saying that they are supportive of it.
Local mum, 24 year-old Melissa Lakey from Calne, has two sons, Theo and Archie. She said: “I’ve enjoyed my breastfeeding experience with my boys so much and cherished the closeness I feel we have gained – it has made me feel on top of the world. I would really like to inspire other mothers to try breastfeeding and help them on their journey.”
Melissa is training to become a volunteer breastfeeding peer supporter with the Wiltshire Council-funded Mum2Mum scheme. The scheme started two years ago, and trains mums who have experienced breastfeeding themselves so they can then provide support to other mums in relaxed and welcoming environments. Joining a Peer Support Group can be an ideal way to help new mums gain confidence and feel more comfortable about breastfeeding their babies when and where needed. Currently there are around 100 active Mum2Mum volunteers supporting women in hospital and community settings across Wiltshire.
Wiltshire Council corporate director, Maggie Rae, said: “We welcome this new campaign and its new help and advice on breastfeeding. Breastfeeding lays the foundation for the good health of the child and has many benefits for the mum too.
“We know it can be daunting for some new mums but we want to assure them that local support is also available for those that need it via their local midwifery or health visiting service, or via the Wiltshire Peer Support Scheme.”
Wiltshire Council Cabinet Member for Public Health, Keith Humphries said: “Deciding to breastfeed or not is of course an individual choice for new mums and their families.
“Through this campaign we want new mums to have all the information they need and ensure they and their baby are supported as much as possible at such an important time in their lives.”
Mums and their partners are encouraged to speak to their midwife or health visitors if they have any questions or concerns about breastfeeding. All midwifery and health visiting staff across Wiltshire have received specialist training in breastfeeding management and are available to provide expert advice and support.
Parents of 0 – 4 year-olds and parents to be can visit www.nhs.uk/start4life for NHS-approved advice and guidance on breastfeeding and giving their children the best start in life. They can also sign up for its free email service.
To find a local council Mum2Mum group people should visit www.wiltshire.gov.uk/pregnancybirthbreastfeeding or phone Wiltshire Public Health on 0300 003 4566.
Expectant and new parents will also be able to pick up a copy of a leaflet, called ‘Off to the Best Start’, which accompanies the campaign, from local libraries.