Not allowed to go to breastfeeding group

(27 Posts)
elliejjtiny Tue 30-Apr-13 23:44:20

Thought about posting this in AIBU but not brave enough grin

I'm 30 weeks pg with DC4 who has a cleft lip. Also have 3 other DS's aged 6, 5 and 2. The younger 2 have EDS and my 5 year old uses a wheelchair. HV came round today to discuss the "support" that's on offer. I'm not interested in most of it as I don't think it will be that helpful but I could do with some decent breastfeeding support.

HV tells me that the rules have changed since I had DS3 and now the breastfeeding group at the childrens centre is for babies under 4 months only, no toddlers allowed. There is a group for older babies but it's at a coffee shop with nobody running it so no professional help and I don't think DS3 would sit quietly in that environment for long. Cleft lip isn't exactly common so it's unlikely that anyone else there will have experienced it but the people who run the "official" group would be much more likely to be able to help.

She suggested I send DS3 to preschool but he's only been walking since christmas, still very clumsy and also really small (currently wearing 9-12 month clothes). He's nowhere near ready for that yet. Nearest group that lets toddlers go is 2 bus rides away and would take me hours to get there and back. Why do they make it so hard for 2nd+ time mums to get breastfeeding support.

ThePskettiIncident Tue 30-Apr-13 23:49:39

That's really awful! Have you phoned LA leche to see if they have a local group. I am a peer supporter but can't help at the bf group with my Ds as he is two and the grop is for under 12 months. It's so stupid and shortsighted. I've complained, but they don't have more suitable rooms for the group which means it affects people like you too.

Bloody government cuts combined with crappy management IMHO.

YonicTheHedgehog Tue 30-Apr-13 23:53:58

That's crap. Our group is for mums with children off all ages and siblings are welcome too. Can you phone the children's centre just to check?

PurpleThing Tue 30-Apr-13 23:56:07

Have you looked to see if there is a La Leche group in your area? They are very welcoming of toddlers. If you go when pregnant they may be able to offer you extra support once DC4 arrives.

I would complain to the children's centre. There may be a good reason for them implementing this new rule but it is making it harder for people to access support. What if DS3 had hardcore SN and could not be left with anyone else ever? You just wouldn't have any bf support ever?

I would also find out if your hospital has an infant feeding co-ordinator. It seems they are impossible to get hold of in most cases but you may need specialist help depending what DC4's cleft is like.

Emilythornesbff Wed 01-May-13 00:02:14

Congratulations on your pregnancy.
You might not have to go to. Group. Most trusts have a feeding adviser who in turn employs. Support worker. I would ask the bf group person to give you their details.
Sorry you're having a tough time support wise. It's a bit shit isn't it.

tiktok Wed 01-May-13 00:03:19

ellie, this is really unfortunate, but there are probably reasons for it.

I am in touch with several breastfeeding support groups, and some of them are babies only...this is because of room and safety. The needs of toddlers are different, and they need space, and toys, sometimes, the room is just not safe for them.

I can definitely see a case for a breastfeeding support group for young babies only (only up to four months sounds a bit limited, but they may have their reasons).

You need support, of course, and there is loads - truly. But it may not be in a group. There are five bf telephone lines in the UK and you should be able to find help from them, and be put in touch with another mother who has bf with a baby with a cleft .

There is CLAPA, who are pretty good on bf, and who your antenatal clinic has prob talked to you about already.

I agree about phoning and checking that the HV's info is still correct, too.

Hope this helps.

Emilythornesbff Wed 01-May-13 00:04:08

Also, ask for a specialist speech therapy referral. They give specific feeding advice when there are complex issues like a cleft.

K8Middleton Wed 01-May-13 00:11:46

This sort of exclusion is my pet hate. I have seen it at NHS and NCT run activities - none I'm involved in I should hasten to add.

I would be tempted to just pitch up toddler and all if you can't get someone to watch him for a bit. Also arm yourself with every bfing helpline number going and contact your local branches of NCT, La Leche League (LLL) and Association of Breastfeeding Mothers (ABM) to see if they can put you in touch with a local Breastfeeding counsellor/lactation consultant.

You mention your toddler is very small. Does he have a disability? To withhold/restrict a service from you because of his disability (even indirectly) would be unlawful.

WouldBeHarrietVane Wed 01-May-13 00:25:39

think this is a daft policy sad

LLL groups definitely always welcome toddlers and you can go while pg if you want to. Hopefully there will be a group near you.

Ellie, I'm so sorry you've been treated like this. I am a La Leche League leader and echo what has already been said that you and your children would be very welcome at our groups and going when pregnant is a brilliant thing to do. You are very welcome to pm me and I would be happy to support you by email etc. (assuming you're not near our group!). I could also try to help you find proper support local to you if you want to pm me.

People often turn up to hospital and other medical appointments with children - sometimes there is no other way and this can be for a great many good reasons. I shudder at the kind of bureaurocracy that puts arbritary rules ahead of caring for the needs of the people they're there to help.

tiktok Wed 01-May-13 00:38:05

It's not daft.

I have been at a group where there were (at first) mothers and babies - then as time went on a lot of them had second, and then third babies. The room was the same size, and it became noisy, chaotic and unsafe. New mothers with tiny babies did not want to come.

In that case, they splintered the group, and ended up with a new baby one and an open one for all, with the open one for all in a different room (actually a different building).

It is not fair just to pitch up with a toddler if you know somewhere is babies only.

WouldBeHarrietVane Wed 01-May-13 00:41:46

At my bf group tiktok we have new babies, mothers and toddlers. There are no problems and new mothers still come.

It is to my mind silly to choose venues that are not suitable for mothers with young children when so many 2nd time mums need bf advice.

Tiktok - where do breastfeeding mothers go for help and support when their babies become mobile where you live?

tiktok Wed 01-May-13 01:11:09

The area I am talking about has a group just for mothers and babies (up to about a year). There is another group (actually a few) which has no restrictions. I am aware of other groups elsewhere with a babies only policy.

I think it's bad if there is nowhere for people with more than one child to go to, of course.

But to call it discrimination, or bureaucratic, is to ignore the fact that mothers have different needs - and the needs of the new mother with one baby (maybe a PFB!) who is struggling and who knows no one, and who finds big groups of multi-age kids and their mothers are off-putting, are different.

K8Middleton Wed 01-May-13 01:14:34

I think the point is that this mother and this baby are not having their needs met while other mothers and other babies in the area are. That is wrong.

Nobody has mentioned discrimination btw.

SirBoobAlot Wed 01-May-13 01:14:48

Our group is run in the children's center, and have no such rule. I'd be tempted to query it. That said, actually you could probably do with some specialist support as well as the general breastfeeding encouragement.

Here is the kellymom info page for feeding with a cleft lip / palate.

www.clapa.com may also be worth looking at.

People like the LLL, BFN and ABM might have some support to offer too.

Some of the facebook breastfeeding pages often cover feeding in difficult circumstances.

K8Middleton Wed 01-May-13 01:23:57

I really do not get why first time mothers and first babies trump other mothers and babies? Breastfeeding support should be for all mothers and babies who want it.

No woman who has to is going to take along her older children to a bfing drop-in. Yes, a Baby Cafe style drop-in where there's lots of shared support and chatting one might consider but not a clinic style drop-in.

The danger is we restrict support to only those people with no other children, or those wealthy enough to be able to employ someone to care for their other child/ren or those with a partner or other family member who can offer childcare... not exactly inclusive. Nobody's saying there has to be one service or an identical service but there has to be an equality of service provision where it is accessible to all who need it.

I see and hear "it's just for babies under 4/6/8/9/12 months" often from otherwise intelligent people and it drives me crackers when no thought has been given to those who don't fit that box.

tiktok Wed 01-May-13 07:43:47

I'll explain it again.

Someone claimed it was the same as restricting a service unlawfully in the same was as some places might do (illegally) on disability grounds ( or 'discrimination'). It's not.

Obviously I want everyone to get appropriate support for mothers in every situation.

I was seeking to point out that a group 'for babes only' is not 'daft' or 'bureaucratic' or 'arbitrary' but may be a sensible choice in the face of the experience I have witnessed of groups becoming too large and unsafe and off putting for newbies because there were too many children there .

Clearly this should not be the only provision anywhere! Clearly there should be other provision for mothers with more than one child.

There are often cut-off age rules for services - schoolage kids in children's centres for example.

I can't make it clearer than that.

WouldBeHarrietVane Wed 01-May-13 07:57:11

Tiktok, you have one view, but I and others on here do not agree with you. We will have to agree to differ.

I understand what you are saying your reasons are, but I'm afraid I don't agree. In my view all groups should be open to all women.

Women with new babies see other mothers with toddlers when they go to the dr to do jabs, go to the HV and go to baby and toddler groups. Why have different rules for bf support? In big cities maybe having one drop in only for new mums with tiny babies alongside plenty of other provision might be ok, but in most other places it is effectively restricting access to services.

EauRouge Wed 01-May-13 08:23:59

I think in some areas they restrict the age because they are just so over-stretched they cannot offer support to everyone. I suppose they think that if you've got past a certain age that you must be doing OK. Social support is very important to women BF older babies and toddlers though, and of course some mothers have other children that they would then have to arrange childcare for.

I know that some mothers may be put off by toddlers at groups but I think it's really valuable to have that kind of peer support from experienced mothers. It depends on the type of meeting I guess, if it's a drop-in type where mothers just ask questions and receive information then toddlers running around may be off-putting.

School-age children are allowed in our local Sure Start, I think it depends on the centre.

Laquila Wed 01-May-13 08:27:23

I really do sympathise with your frustrations but if I'm honest I can understand that some groups have to put certain restrictions in place, whether it be on numbers, children's ages, timings etc. I hope you find somewhere else more suitable soon.

yetanotherworry Wed 01-May-13 08:33:00

I help with a Bf cafe and we allow children of all ages to come along. However, I can see why they would restrict - new mums may not want toddlers running around their PFB so would feel unwelcome whereas the second time mum may be assumed to already know what they are doing. When I had my second, the group I went to was for babies only (up to 6 months) although it wasn't a BF group just a new mums group. What they need to is have 2 groups and cater for both.

Unfortunately much of these decisions come down to funding. The organisation I volunteer for offers individual peer support but its only for people who live in the right postcodes (deprived areas) as their remit is to try and boost BF rates in these areas. At the BF cafe, we don't have to adhere to these postcode regulations as its held in a public place.

I can see from both sides really and think it depends on the provisions that are in place.

For example, I had to go to a breastfeeding group run by a lactation consultant at a large childrens centre when DS was about 5 months. You would expect this wouldn't be a problem, but DS was very mobile at thus point, crawling over everything, there was me and about 6 other new mums with tiny babies. I felt so out of place, I was put to the back of the queue because of DSs age. Had to wait 90 minutes in a small room with no toys (despite being in a very well provisioned large childrens centre) and a fast crawling baby. It was hard and I can well imagine that had I had another older child it would have been a nightmare and the mums of the tiny babies may have found it more stressful than I'm sure it already was for them, and so would I and I'm sure the staff too.

However, if you are struggling you could ask for a breastfeeding counsellor to come and visit you? In the early days I was sent maternity care assistants from the hospital and a friend of mine had a breastfeeding counsellor come to her. Not sure where from, I assume hospital or midwife arranged it.

Maybe you could talk to your midwife before the birth and ask them to put you in touch with the hospital lactation consultant? I was told to do thus if I have another baby because of all the feeding problems we've had.

I really hope you get the help you need.

Emilythornesbff Wed 01-May-13 11:46:23

Fwiw I think you make a reasonable point tiktok

K8Middleton Wed 01-May-13 12:10:03

Yes I also understood your argument tiktok and I disagree that it is particularly relevant in this specific case because there is no equal support for those who don't fit a very arbitrary criteria. As I said it the support does not have to be the same or identical, just equal.

I think if we strip it back to the issue at hand most people probably are in agreement. The issue is that the op wants to access bfing support for her new baby. Due to the changes to provision she is unable to access support - support that is available to other mothers and babies.

The issue for me is quite simple (particularly when you consider the disparity between bfing initiation rates and rates at 2 and 6 weeks):

1. Do we need to offer bfing support?
2. Can everybody who needs it access it?

If the answer yes and no respectively then the service provision needs looking at.

TwitchyTail Wed 01-May-13 12:49:13

I think in this case it would be a good idea for the local infant feeding coordinator, if there is one, to do home visits to the OP. Is this something you could ask about?

elliejjtiny Wed 01-May-13 14:05:44

Thanks for the replies. After spending a couple of hours on the internet and on the phone, the infant feeding specialist and a nurse from clapa will do home visits after DC4 is born. Only one other group I can get to but not sure if they let in toddlers or not.

DS3 does have a disability (ehlers danlos syndrome) but I think his size is just because we are all shorties in our family. DS2 has the same condition although more severely. I've talked to the children's centre and they have confirmed the rule about no babies over 4 months. Apparantly it's because older babies make the environment less "nurturing" hmm.

It just feels so sad because when I went with DS3 they had peer supporters and all the mums of toddlers would be offering the new mums a drink etc and welcoming them. The HV used to turn up late and leave early. Now that the peer supporters have been kicked out I hope that the HV's are making more of an effort at the group.

Should never have talked to my mum about it though. She breastfed in the 80's when there was no bf support after you were discharged from the midwife and people who struggled after that switched to formula. I've seen a vast improvement in breastfeeding support between having DS1 and now and I see this as a good thing.

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