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Your thoughts on breastfeeding policy and what could be done to improve it/ increase breastfeeding rates

(326 Posts)
JustScreamMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 29-Oct-09 11:10:06

Hello Mumsnetters, we've managed to get a meeting with the person running the Government's breastfeeding initiative and would like to pass on Mumsnet's top suggestions for improving breastfeeding policy and to outline the key issues.

So let rip! But do bear in mind that there's probably bugger all in the pot, so, much as we'd all love to have a one to one breastfeeding counsellor for the first 48 hours for all type thing - that's probably not a realistic suggestion at this point.

FlamingoBingo Thu 29-Oct-09 11:13:07

Stop spending money on promoting breastfeeding and start spending money on training HCPs enough to support the women who do want to breastfeed in the first place.

Yes, the initiation rates would drop, but I'm fairly certain you'd see a huge rise in rates of women still bfing at 6w, 4m and 6m.

Promoting breastfeeding just makes mums feel guilty and sets them up to fail. Far better to ban stupid breastfeeding awareness week, stop making pens and posters etc. and train the people who are at the front-line.

BertieBotts Thu 29-Oct-09 11:13:55

Biggest issue is support for those who want to breastfeed - haven't got the figures to hand but something like 75% start off intending to breastfeed, but only a small percentage succeed. So it's obvious nothing more needs to be done to persuade people to try - we need to enable more mothers to succeed. (And eventually that should have a snowball effect to mean the majority of people see breastfeeding as normal)

missorinoco Thu 29-Oct-09 11:15:44

More realistic information for parents in antenatal classes. Bin the knitted nipple and the plastic doll that latches onto it.
Warn Mums it may not be easy, but that they can do it. Give them a list of numbers with support. (Our midwives do this when they see us in the community)

belgo Thu 29-Oct-09 11:18:18

I think it's dangerous to promote breastfeeding without providing the necessary professional support for women when they need it.

Women want to breastfeed and are doing their best, but without good professional help, there can be occasions when breastfeeding goes wrong to the possible detriment of the baby's health. And of course women end up blaming themselves and blaming breastfeeding itself when really it's the lack of good professional support that is to blame.

Tortington Thu 29-Oct-09 11:19:57

i think we have to fundementally change culture in some areas of britain. i firmly believe that the best way to do this is to introduce universal parenting classes. We all submit to peer pressure on some level, whether it be what clothes we by and where we buy from to what food we eat. Changing culture is advertising your product ( breastfeeding) and presenting it as not only the most beneficial, but as 'normal'. in some areas Bottlefeeding has been 'normal' for generations

AbricotsSecs Thu 29-Oct-09 11:23:33

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AbricotsSecs Thu 29-Oct-09 11:24:00

Message withdrawn

FlamingoBingo Thu 29-Oct-09 11:25:18

Oh and far, far more positive breastfeeding in the media - make the soaps show mums breastfeeding and, more importantly, succeeding. More photos in the papers. Make it NORMAL to breastfeed.

BarakObamasTransitVan Thu 29-Oct-09 11:29:07

A pipe dream, yes, but imo extending paid mat leave to 12 months (or fully-paid to 9 months) would help.
I totally agree with what others have said about warning people that it is often painful in the early days - but that it does get better and that it is soooo much easier in the (no much) longer term.
BF needs to be normalised, too. Perhaps this is out of the govt's remit but I'd like to see more women bf-ing on TV. Soaps would be a good start.

JustAnotherManicMummy Thu 29-Oct-09 11:29:55

Make it legal to breastfeed in public in England, Wales and N Ireland like it is in Scotland.

Good support at anti-natal stage. Proper classes dedicated to breastfeeding. And tell mothers the truth. None of this "if you're doing it right it won't hurt" rubbish. More "it can be uncomfortable at first, these are things you can try to help"

Encourage partnership with other agencies like La Leche and NCT who offer support.

Perhaps help HVs to organise local support for new breastfeeders from those who've been there. Not necessarily counsellors (they cost money which probably isn't there) but maybe more volunteer support?

Ever area should have a breastfeeding cafe. They are fab.

AbricotsSecs Thu 29-Oct-09 11:30:34

Message withdrawn

Kayzr Thu 29-Oct-09 11:31:26

Get MWs to stop pushing formula top ups as soon as the baby loses a bit of weight.

All HCPs that come into contact with new mums need better training.

BarakObamasTransitVan Thu 29-Oct-09 11:32:03

basicall everything Falmingo's saying grin

belgo Thu 29-Oct-09 11:32:34

If there is a law to make breastfeeding in public legal in the UK, it needs to be unconditional ie. no age limit on the child being breastfed.

sfxmum Thu 29-Oct-09 11:40:55

as it has been said it is about education early on, parenting classes not just when the children arrive and obviously for both sexes

promote positive body image for girls (my boobs are not for babies but for sex, that is gross)
while this sort of thing crosses someone's mind it is a lost cause

decent maternity/ paternity leave and proper support and flexibility over the first couple of years

it might seem 'excessive' but spend now save later

FlamingoBingo Thu 29-Oct-09 11:43:12

"None of this "if you're doing it right it won't hurt" rubbish"

If you are doing it right then it won't hurt. This is correct information. The trouble is, the percentage of mums and babies who struggle to do it right from the very start is very low because of bad training, which means that, for nearly every mother it does hurt therefore it is normal for it to hurt in our culture where problems don't get picked up before they become real problems. It is, however, not biologically normal for bfing to hurt.

It can hurt to latch on in the first few days, but it shouldn't hurt once the feed's got going. This is really important to know because if you perservere with pain, then you are heading down a slippery slope to not succeeding at bfing - you're supply might dip, your nipples may get damaged, your baby may not put on any weight or get dehydrated.

PacificWerewolfwoohood Thu 29-Oct-09 11:44:58

Agree with other posters:

Train HCP better in all BFing entails (I am saying this as a GP - I had no professional training re BFin)

Give realistic information and support from the start: antenatal classes, MWs, HVs. There is nothing wrong with pointing out it can be hard (this I am saying as a mother: I did not need HV to point out I could "top up with FF", I needed her to make sympathetic noises and encourage me to keep going).

Stop the cringeworthy "Breast is best", for goodness sake give women some credit: we know breast milk is the ideal food for babies. It's how to make it work that is tricky (for some).

I cannot believe there needs to be a law to "allow" BFing in public angryshock - but yes, there should be one, sigh!

VulpusinaWilfsuit Thu 29-Oct-09 11:46:15

Agree wholeheartedly with comments about proper training for HVs, and MWs.

Needs to be proper, mandatory, accredited training by BF organisations. Attach BF targets to individual HV and MW appraisals. Provide proper management structures to ensure delivery. Follow up with evaluations from women. Like SATS and league tables but for BF! wink

iwascyteenagewerewolf Thu 29-Oct-09 11:48:03

Everything above, basically. Better trained frontline staff across the board; better education; normalising breastfeeding within our culture. As part of that normalisation, I think more information about the early days is crucial - that frequent feeding and night waking is to be expected, that frequent feeding is good, not bad, as it helps to regulate supply to meet the baby's needs, and that spending the first few weeks doing little other than getting to know your newborn is okay.

New parents need to be supported in listening to their instincts and getting to know their baby, not given ten different kinds of conflicting information from well meaning but ineffective professionals.

Igglybuff Thu 29-Oct-09 11:51:07

It's already been said but more information on how difficult it is in the early weeks. While I was prepared for sore nips, I was not prepared for the emotional difficulty after the two week babymoon stage.

Better information on how to do it. I asked for help when in hospital but it was not good enough. And, quite frankly, leaflets with pretty diagrams don't cut it.

Better information on what to expect - e.g. When you milk comes in, changes in boobs (how many mums think they've run out of milk when they go floppy and baby is getting frantic...?! I know I did!), growth spurts, expressing etc.

I think I'm suggesting we need better information! I paid for NCT classes so at least had a head start. No idea what the NHS offers.

scrappydappydoo Thu 29-Oct-09 11:51:57

Agree with Kayz - better informed hcps who know/understand more about bfing. Have the new wieght charts been released yet that plot a bf baby weight gain?? and formula top up is not the answer to every bf problem..
Also HCPs need to understand the whole bf on demand thing - I had a hv who told me I should only feed by bf 8mth old 3 times a day - she didn't tell that to dd2!!
Also agree there should be more reassurance that it ain't easy at first but it will get better!!

foxytocin Thu 29-Oct-09 11:54:31

Stop the promotion of formula in magazines aimed at health care professionals.

Stop the advertising of 'follow on' milks which were only created to make parents brand aware.

Real training for midwives and health visitors in what normal breastfeeding is. Pay them to go to start and continue training beyond the 2 day Unicef course or whatever they normally attend. At the moment I understand that if HCPs want to update or continue their knowledge they have to pay out of pocket to do so. shock

Get baby food companies to label foods correctly - ie in line with the WHO/DOH recommendations that babies should be given milk only (no matter what kind) until 6 mos.

Igglybuff Thu 29-Oct-09 11:58:11

Also better paternity leave. My DH has been off work for four weeks which has meant I've kept BF because he has been able to help me in the night. If he'd gone back to work after two weeks I'd have cracked and given formula as around then I was a wreck thinking my boobs had failed me. Dads play an important supporting role and two weeks leave does not cut it.

AitchTwoToTangOh Thu 29-Oct-09 11:58:31

forget totally about trying to persuade women who aren't interested, concentrate on those who want to bf. initiation rates are a political target, signifying nothing at all.

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