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Webchat on breastfeeding with UNICEF's Sue Ashmore and Carmel Duffy on Monday 8th November 1 - 2pm

(106 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 04-Nov-10 10:52:24

Sue Ashmore and Carmel Duffy from UNICEF will be joining us at MNHQ on Monday 8th November at 1pm to answer all your questions on infant feeding, support for breastfeeding in the NHS and anything else related.

Sue Ashmore is the Programme Director of the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative, which works with the health-care system to ensure a high standard of care for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers and babies. Sue?s background is in midwifery and, as an infant feeding adviser; she supported her hospital in Sheffield to become one of the first Baby Friendly accredited hospitals in the country. Carmel Duffy is a Deputy Programme Director for the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative, where she is responsible for the development and monitoring of education and training. Carmel has recently been involved with the development of a specialised course for health professionals working in neonatal units that emphasises the importance of breastmilk as part of a family-centred approach to care for this vulnerable group.

Add the date to your diary and if you're unable to join us, please post your questions to Carmel and Sue on this thread.

TigerFeet Sun 07-Nov-10 22:16:06

Hi, I'd be really interested in your views on the role of peer supporters.

Myself and many of the other mums from our local group recently completed training and are now active peer supporters at our weekly support group. We now outnumber the non-peer supporters attending the group and w're really struggling to recruit new members. We are working hard to publicise the group but we seem to be finding it very hard to overcome the breastfeeding=boob wielding nutter myth.

Do you have any ideas that might kick start our recruitment drive?

gaelicsheep Sun 07-Nov-10 22:43:56

That would make an interesting thread generally TigerFeet. I know a few b/f mothers and I'm the only one who's ventured to the support group - 4.5 months in with problems mostly solved, and only because I'm interested in training as a peer supporter! I think a b/f group is a bit single issue, plus the last thing a struggling new mother wants is to have to try and feed in front of others. IMO peer supporters could be more effective in other ways.

Gaelic & Tiger I am a peer supporter in an area where Breastfeeding rates were appalling, they are slowly improving with the help of a range of initiatives. One in particular is the ability of our group to speak to mums antenatally. We have found that meeting a mum before birth makes her more likely to make contact with us after, often sooner, when a problem may arise.

I think another thread may be helpful to discuss this.

cantthinkofagoodname Mon 08-Nov-10 09:34:46

I have a 7 month old daughter and have noticed that whilst breastfeeding upto 6 months is generally applauded by HCPs and wider society, after 6 months is a different story. Degree educated family are telling me that breastmilk has no benefit after 6 months, many of my (largely middle class, professional)peers from antenatal class switched to formula at 6 months and even HCPs have advised me to switch to follow-on milk to ensure my baby gets enough vitamins!

Why do you think this myth that breastmilk is only for 6 months prevails and what can be done to address it?

twinsplus3 Mon 08-Nov-10 11:22:34

Hello. I am being TUPEd (transfure of undertakings protection of employment) at work and have been told i will be on a new shift pattern finishing at 8 pm insted of 6 pm once a week for ETO (Economic, tecnical or organisational) resons. This is a problem as I wont be home untill 9 pm and my twin daughters usualy have a breasfeed and go to sleep at 7pm. Twice in there lives so far I have had to leave them with my partner and my milk from a bottle at bedtime and one of my daughters just screamed and cried herself to sleep, I cant bare to think of this happening on a weekly basis. Work is fine for me to pump there but my girls want the milk straight from me at bed time. I have a meeting on friday were I will be able to raise this are there specific things I can say to support my case. My girls are 1yr 2 wks and I do think this makes It harder for work to understand why bf still matters. Will be out when discussion happens but anyadvice greatfully appriciated

thefatcontroller Mon 08-Nov-10 11:24:38

Dear both,

There is clearly a lot being done by Baby Friendly and others to support breastfeeding mothers.

Is anyone looking out for bottle feeding mothers?

Looking forward to your reply.

scrappydappydoo Mon 08-Nov-10 11:26:06

I'm not going to be in unfortunately but would also like to know how we 'educate' hv in particular on bfing.

I had one hv reduce me to tears at dd2s 8mth check up She was shocked that I was 'still' bfing. She told me that she was feeding too much (12 times in 24 hrs). She encouraged pushed me to switch to formula as it would make dd2 sleep through the night hmm, I would know how much milk she was getting so I wouldn't 'overfeed' her etc etc I walked out in the end as I knew she was wrong and have never been back and now do not trust hv advice at all.

There are countless similar stories on mn and it worries me how many mothers are given wrong advice and just accepted it because they do not know better. So How can we ensure that hcps have access to the best updated advice?

RadoxBabyBel Mon 08-Nov-10 11:27:35

I'd echo the experiences of cantthinkpfagoodname, above. The situation is even worse post 12 months. I picked up my copy of the toddler years yesterday and was told that breastmilk post 12 months has no nutritional value! What should be done to address these ideas - which I find v common even in health care professionals?

AbricotsSecs Mon 08-Nov-10 11:33:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

crikeybadger Mon 08-Nov-10 11:37:41

Agree with scrappydappydoo about Hv's.

Their advice is often outdated or just plain wrong which undermines breastfeeding. Are hvs covered by the BFI or is it just mws?

My question for Sue and Carmel is:

What single thing would reduce the high rate of women who give up breastfeeding without really wanting to?

crikeybadger Mon 08-Nov-10 11:45:44

oh and thefatcontroller-

if you go the the bfi homepage, there is a section called 'A guide to infant formula for parents who are bottle feeding' smile

SueAshmore Mon 08-Nov-10 12:22:09

testing

CarmelDuffy Mon 08-Nov-10 12:23:10

test

LeninGuido Mon 08-Nov-10 12:56:43

Welcome!

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 08-Nov-10 12:58:41

Sue Ashmore and Carmel Duffy have braved the rain and have joined us at Mumsnet HQ for the next hour to answer your questions. Welcome to Mumsnet Sue and Carmel...

AbricotsSecs Mon 08-Nov-10 13:00:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CarmelDuffy Mon 08-Nov-10 13:00:51

Hi everyone - lovely to be here - hope my typing keeps up to pace and my spelling does not confuse too much

SparklePffftBANG Mon 08-Nov-10 13:02:24

hi

CarmelDuffy Mon 08-Nov-10 13:02:59

scrappydappydoo

I'm not going to be in unfortunately but would also like to know how we 'educate' hv in particular on bfing.

I had one hv reduce me to tears at dd2s 8mth check up She was shocked that I was 'still' bfing. She told me that she was feeding too much (12 times in 24 hrs). She encouraged pushed me to switch to formula as it would make dd2 sleep through the night hmm, I would know how much milk she was getting so I wouldn't 'overfeed' her etc etc I walked out in the end as I knew she was wrong and have never been back and now do not trust hv advice at all.

There are countless similar stories on mn and it worries me how many mothers are given wrong advice and just accepted it because they do not know better. So How can we ensure that hcps have access to the best updated advice?

It is such a shame that there are still some health professionals who think that follow-on milk is superior to breastmilk. It just makes you see how effective the milk company advertising is. The law regulating the advertising of formula milks is much weaker than the international Code of Marketing and this is the reason there are adverts for follow-on formula on our television sets. A MORI poll conducted by UNICEF and the NCT found that many mothers thought they had seen adverts for infant formula rather than follow-on milks and the companies use the promotion of follow-on milks to advertise their company name. It comes back to education however and your question illustrates just how important it is for health visitors to attend breastfeeding training so that they can appreciate the importance of breastmilk beyond the six month period.

SueAshmore Mon 08-Nov-10 13:03:48

Hi Good to join you all, I am looking forward to the chat. This is the first time I have ever done a web chat. Mumsnet have been very welcoming and patient with my naive questions about technology.

Indith Mon 08-Nov-10 13:05:34

<tries to think of something intelligent to say>

CarmelDuffy Mon 08-Nov-10 13:06:19

TigerFeet

Hi, I'd be really interested in your views on the role of peer supporters.

Myself and many of the other mums from our local group recently completed training and are now active peer supporters at our weekly support group. We now outnumber the non-peer supporters attending the group and w're really struggling to recruit new members. We are working hard to publicise the group but we seem to be finding it very hard to overcome the breastfeeding=boob wielding nutter myth.

Do you have any ideas that might kick start our recruitment drive?

Hi tigerfeet - Gaelic and Tiger mentioned the importance of meeting women in the antenatal period as it is good to have a friendly face when you first turn up at a new group. I have found this to be useful in the past. Hopefully your local midwives and health visitors can also help promote your groups and give out friendly fliers. My experience is that these groups do tend to start off slowly but feedback from people who have attended is the best publicity there is. I am not sure how long you have been running but be patient and they will soon see you as the measured sensible people that you are and be queuing up outside your door!

SueAshmore Mon 08-Nov-10 13:07:05

twinsplus3

Hello. I am being TUPEd (transfure of undertakings protection of employment) at work and have been told i will be on a new shift pattern finishing at 8 pm instead of 6 pm once a week for ETO (Economic, technical or organisational) reasons. This is a problem as I wont be home until 9 pm and my twin daughters usually have a breastfeed and go to sleep at 7pm. Twice in there lives so far I have had to leave them with my partner and my milk from a bottle at bedtime and one of my daughters just screamed and cried herself to sleep, I cant bare to think of this happening on a weekly basis. Work is fine for me to pump there but my girls want the milk straight from me at bed time. I have a meeting on friday were I will be able to raise this are there specific things I can say to support my case. My girls are 1yr 2 wks and I do think this makes It harder for work to understand why bf still matters. Will be out when discussion happens but anyadvice greatfully appriciated

Hi – this sounds really hard, I do sympathise. If you haven’t already done so, it is a good idea to be aware of your rights as a breastfeeding mother. Follow this link for the Department of Health guidance on this.

It can be best not to try and replicate breastfeeding when mum is not there, especially with older babies like your girls. So if your partner gives them a drink in a cup and then offers cuddles, stories etc, they will start getting used to a mum routine and a Dad / partner routine. Most children quickly get used to it being different when mum is not around and life then gets easier.
Sue

tabouleh Mon 08-Nov-10 13:08:47

Hi Sue and Carmel - I think that the Baby Friendly Initiative is a great one and hope it can be rolled out everywhere.

(I feel that I was failed by the NHS wrt to BF advice etc. DS ended up in hospital and diagnosed "failure to thrive" and formula top ups suggested.)

So my question is about formula.

I feel that that a key part of Baby Friendly should be PROPER info and advice about formula feeding: differnet formulas/how to feed and most importantly preparation.

Your website has the only decent leaflet about formula - so well done for that.

But why on why can that info not be properly
explained to parents?

Why do HCPS not explain that formula is not sterile and that to make it safe it needs to be made with water which is 70 degrees?

Why do they not explain alternatives to making a fresh bottle each time (carton out and about/in middle of night/you can make bottle up to 2 hours before feed finished/water in a flask at 70 degrees - and yes make in advance cool rapidly store in fridge for a minimal time)?

So many just say "oh well you're supposed to make in advance but you can just make with cool water".

Your own leaflet on this page is rubbish I'm afraid - it is 5 years old and it fails to mention that to get water at 70 degrees it needs to be 1 litre boiled and left for 30 mins - it also fails to mention that there are some safe alternatives to making fresh.

And as for the leaflets in other languages - well some of them do not mention the 70 degrees at all. I emailed babyfriendly mid July and was told

"I have spoken with our website and resources editor and we are getting all of our leaflets updated over the course of the summer."

I feel passionately about safer infant feeding - and working towards higher BF rates is part of that of course. But at the moment where we are living in a formula feeding culture - let's make sure that HCPs can give advice on how to actually safely feed formula. That should be easy. Then get on with increasing knowledge of BF.

Please can I have your thoughts on safer formula feedng?

Thanks!

SueAshmore Mon 08-Nov-10 13:09:05

LoveBeingAMummy

Hi Ladies

What do you think is needed to change the perception of women who think bf'ing is gross and that the highly processed milk from another animal is 'normal'?

(I am aware that for lots of people ff is something they dont have a choice about, this is certainly not directed at them)

Hi LoveBeingaMummy – Great name by the way – This is a complex question, the UK has one of the most entrenched bottle feeding cultures in the world and this results in all of us seeing bottle feeding all the time and considering bottle feeding as the normal or default way to feed a baby. Breasts on the other hand are associated with sex (to put it bluntly!) Therefore it is hardly surprising that some women have the reaction they do to breastfeeding. To turn this around is a big job, but not impossible. Firstly, we need to ensure that the women who want to breastfeed are enabled to be successful. Therefore, health care practices need to improve, with better policies and training as described by UNICEF and new mothers need more support to carry on breastfeeding.

The research shows that mothers are more likely to breastfeed if there is one person in their lives who believe that they can do it, that is why peer support programmes, support groups etc are so important, especially for women who live in areas where few people breastfeed.

We also need to make education for breastfeeding in the antenatal period better and more accessible to the women least likely to breastfeed. You can’t make an informed choice if you don’t have clear and unbiased information to assist you. Once more mothers breastfeed, then it will become better understood and less strange to the women around them. Also there will be less mothers out there who have horror stories connected to their breastfeeding experience, putting off their family and friends.

Then we need to think about how breastfeeding is portrayed in the media etc. Social Marketing campaigns have been shown to be successful in changing attitudes and I think we also need to tighten the law. It is illegal to advertise formula milk and yet the companies get around the law all the time, giving out misleading information and seductive adverts to make bottle feeding look like the sensible / normal choice to make.

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