This Breastfeeding Celebration Week (1 to 7 June), a Leeds mum shares her experience of getting online support for breastfeeding and the benefits to breastfeeding.
Steph (surname withheld) from Leeds said: “When I was pregnant with William, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed. In anticipation, I joined some support groups online. I was lucky that William latched onto me soon after giving birth. My husband was supportive during those early days, there were lots he could do like getting me water and snacks (it is a very hungry and thirsty job!) and he bonded with William wearing a sling and changing his nappy.
“Although there were some very difficult times with breastfeeding, as time went on it did get easier, and I am now still breastfeeding William 15 months in. Breastfeeding a toddler has a whole host of other challenges, especially in lockdown. Without many distractions and boredom, William has been feeding a lot. But that’s where my online support group has been very helpful again, knowing that I’m not alone in this and helping me with setting boundaries and using different techniques.
“My biggest advice to mums who would like to breastfeed is not to be scared and to go for it. There’s a lot of focus around it being difficult, but you might surprise yourself! Do speak to other mums from your local online support groups, as these groups are available during coronavirus outbreak. Things you think aren’t normal might turn out to be the most normal thing and it’s so helpful to know that you’re not alone.”
In the UK, more than 81% of women start breastfeeding, and 17% of babies are still being exclusively breastfed at three months [i]. Breastfeeding has many health benefits for babies, providing essential nutrients, and boosting their ability to fight illness and infection. For the mum, it can reduce the risk of ovarian cancer and breast cancer.
Dr. Jane Mischenko, Lead Commissioner for Children and Maternity at NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “It’s important for mums to know that there is no evidence that coronavirus can be passed to your baby in breastmilk. The benefits of breastfeeding and the protection it offers to babies outweigh any potential risks of transmission of coronavirus through breastmilk.
“Even in these unprecedented times support is still available for mums. Breastfeeding is something mum and baby learn together and, like anything new, it can take time to get the hang of. In Leeds, we’re lucky to have several breastfeeding support groups across the city, including phone support, online video calls, and Facebook groups.
“The breastfeeding support groups are great for mums to ask questions and develop their confidence. The leaders of the groups have undertaken training so that they can offer support and signpost if you need specific help. We also have breastfeeding peer support groups, where the supporters are mothers who have breastfed and undertaken a training course. Mums can also choose to see breastfeeding counsellors who have undertaken extensive training, and can offer support, information, and practical help.”
Find a local breastfeeding group by visiting the Leeds Bosom Buddies Facebook page; this page promotes all breastfeeding support groups in Leeds https://en-gb.facebook.com/CityandHunsletBosomBuddies/
Notes to editors
In the UK more than 81% of mothers start breastfeeding and 17% of babies are still being exclusively breastfed at 3 months – this figure has been taken from the NHS website and can be found on the following link: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/benefits-breastfeeding/
NHS – Pregnancy and coronavirus
There’s no evidence that pregnant women are more likely to get seriously ill from coronavirus. However, pregnant women have been included in the list of people at moderate risk (clinically vulnerable) as a precaution. More information can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/people-at-higher-risk-from-coronavirus/pregnancy-and-coronavirus/
Further information can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/start4life/baby/coronavirus-covid19-advice-for-parents/
Benefits to breastfeeding
Breastfeeding reduces your baby’s risk of:
Infections, with fewer visits to hospital as a result
Diarrhoea and vomiting, with fewer visits to hospital as a result
Sudden infant deaths syndrome (SIDS)
Cardiovascular disease in adulthood
For further information, please visit NHS online: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/benefits-breastfeeding/