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Monday, 12 July 2010

Baby Friendly Community : What It Means To Me

Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!




Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe's Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to www.breastfeedingcafe.wordpress.com. For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today's post is about baby friendly communities. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st! 
 




The Baby Friendly Initiative is a worldwide programme of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF. Community facilities can become accredited as "Baby Friendly" by adopting the Seven Point Plan for Sustaining Breastfeeding in the Community.

The Seven Point Plan covers many issues surrounding breastfeeding from staff training in breastfeeding inititation and continued/sustained breastfeeding, being welcoming towards breastfeeding families, not promoting bottle feeding, and giving out information about breastfeeding to pregnant women.

As a mother in the UK who is currently breastfeeding, we have some things going for us here in the fact that the UK abides by the WHO code. There are no formula samples or bags given to pregnant women in the hospitals here. In the hospital that I delivered, they go as far as not providing free formula to babies unless there is a medical indication. If the mother chooses before birth not to breastfeed, she has to bring her own formula to the hospital with her. There are formula ads on the TV and in magazines, but only for "follow on" formula, they do not advertise newborn formulas. You don't get handed coupons for formula at the checkout and there are no displays showing formula at reduced price. Breastfeeding in public is protected by law here. And yet, breastfeeding rates are still appallingly low. The last Infant Feeding Survey done in 2005 showed that only 35 per cent of UK babies are being exclusively breastfed at one week, 21 per cent at six weeks, 7 per cent at four months and 3 per cent at five months. Why?

In my opinion, the biggest problem we face here in the UK is breastfeeding support - it's simply not good enough. This article shows that still not enough hospitals are gaining Baby Friendly status.

I gave birth to both of my children in the same hospital. I was told that while there was a lactation consultant on the staff she was not there all the time, however the midwives and nurses in the Delivery Suite are trained in breastfeeding. I actually found them very good. With my first son, I had cracked and bleeding nipples stemming from some problems latching. I could get him on, but it would take me 15 minutes each time and it was a big source of frustration and tears as a hormonal new mama. The LC came around but at the time he was happily attached and nursing and she just took one look at us, said it all looked good and wandered off again. I accredit our breastfeeding success to a nursing auxiliary who was changing my bed as I tried to latch my son fruitlessly one morning. She got a pillow for me to lay him on so he was the right height to feed comfortably, and showed me how to guide his head properly to ensure he latched the right way. She also advised me to let my nipples air dry between feedings to aid healing. Almost right away this made the world of difference to us. By the time he was 10 days old we had things off pat. I never had to ring the breastfeeding support helpline number that I was given.

Things were rather different with my second son when he was born two years later, however. While everything was fine initially, none of the latch issues I had with his brother, he had a problem with his belly button becoming infected at 10 days old and had to take him back into hospital. There a nurse weighed him on a scale placed on a bed, proceeded to round down the weight and it appeared he had lost weight alarmingly. Born at 8lbs 4oz, he was 8lbs even at 5 days old, they said he now weighed 7lbs 14oz. Then a doctor came around, without even addressing the reason we were there (the belly button infection) and started saying things like many mothers do not make enough milk for their babies, if he needs to eat more often than every four hours then I wasn't producing enough for him, I needed to start supplementing with formula, etc. I argued back with her that my oldest fed every hour and gained perfectly well. They told me that I must feed my baby every three hours starting with breastfeeding followed by a top up of formula. (Recipe for supply failure, right?)

I went home with my confidence shaken despite everything I knew about breastfeeding and my experience, attempted to bottle feed my son with expressed milk which he refused point blank, he just wanted to feed at the source. The next day I rang the Central Delivery Suite and made a complaint about the way I was treated by the doctor. They were horrified at the advice I was given. I told them I was going to continue to nurse him on demand, but to make sure he didn't go more than two hours without a feed, I wasn't going to give any supplements. They agreed this was a good plan of action and arranged for a midwife to come around the next day to weigh my baby again at my house.

The midwife duly came around the next day, took one look at my baby and commented that he really didn't look like a baby that wasn't getting enough, then got out the scales in her bag, saying that she needed to find a spirit level surface to place them on to get an accurate reading. Alarm bells went off in my head as I remembered that the nurse the day before had put the scale ON THE BED which would be nowhere near level. He weighed over a full pound more than they had told me he was the day before, at 9lbs even.

Then at 5 weeks old, we went through a stage of him refusing the breast, or pulling off screaming at every feed. I rang the helpline, but this happened on a Bank Holiday weekend, so all I could do was leave a message and wait for a call back. I didn't get a callback for a full week after I initially rang. This is not good enough. Thankfully I had the internet, online forums where I got lots of supportive and helpful advice and figured out my problem was an extremely forceful letdown as his screaming would start just as letdown happened and was putting him off nursing at all. I used several techniques to combat this like nursing uphill, expressing before latching, etc.

So from my experience, the right things are being said and the theory is there regarding supporting breastfeeding. But while doctors are able to opt out of breastfeeding training and access to support helplines is patchy in places, we will continue to fall short.


Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe's Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to www.breastfeedingcafe.wordpress.com. For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today's post is about baby friendly communities. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st! 
 




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