In Cambridgeshire and Peterborough the support available for breastfeeding has changed rapidly over the past two months ensuring mothers who chose to breastfeed can get the support they need. Alongside the traditional ways mothers can get help in maternity units, via community midwives, health visitors and support from our valuable third sector infant feeding specialists, remarkable and innovative ways mothers and their families can continue to get help have been rolled out across the county. These include video calls, texting and telephone support, social media groups and virtual support groups via Zoom, such as the Cottenham Baby Café who are running free virtual drop-ins via Zoom for new and expectant mothers.
Beccy Percival Project Midwife for the Maternity Transformation Programme/Better Births at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG said, “Having a new baby can be a trying and difficult time for any mother and their family but when you add in the difficult circumstances we are in currently, it can make it harder to get support from their families and networks. We have seen some brilliant and innovative methods being used in our hospitals, communities and by local voluntary organisations and charities.
“Our advice at this time remains the same though and if you are having difficulties with breastfeeding then speak to your midwife or health visitor. They can help you or direct you to other breastfeeding support available near you.
Local mum Shellie Pyle who gave birth at the Rosie Hospital during the first week of lockdown said, “I have exclusively breastfed my daughter Mia from day one, something I found very challenging, but I have managed to overcome most barriers. I still find some days harder then others, but continue to persevere on this breastfeeding journey. I'm glad I am continuing to breastfed Mia, I find these times extremely special and feel blessed I am able to fed my daughter this way. Times are very tough right now, but I count ourselves lucky we are safe and healthy through this pandemic.”
Rosie Maternity Voices are a group of local parents, doula and birth worker volunteers representing the voices of birthing women and people, their partners and families to improve and develop maternity services at the Rosie Hospital, Cambridge. They have been working with local parents over the past couple of months to help parents establish breastfeeding.
Caroline Zwierzchowska-Dod, Chair of Rosie Maternity Voices, said, “The Rosie Hospital have worked hard to extend the support for new parents during Covid-19, and have set up a dedicated infant feeding helpline as well as producing some informative videos to help parents establish breastfeeding. Local voluntary breastfeeding support groups have been quick to move to online to make sure that everyone who wants support can access it. Many of the parents we have heard from have felt very supported with how they are feeding their babies which is great to hear. The hospital are now looking at data on the weights of new babies as we've been hearing anecdotally that more women and birthing people are choosing to breastfeed and that more babies than usual are back to their birthweight quicker. Maybe there will be some unexpected upsides to the Coronavirus outbreak!"