New mums get breastfeeding support via Zoom

New mums are receiving support in feeding their babies during lockdown thanks to digital technology.

Home-Start Oldham, Stockport and Tameside (HOST) is a local community network of trained staff and volunteers, who work in partnership with the Community Infant Feeding Team (a jointly commissioned service who also offer support to mums in Oldham) and Tameside Hospital to provide support to help families with young children and provide information and support to help local mums breastfeed successfully.

They have still been supporting mums, despite the restrictions of lockdown and social distancing, by telephone calls, videos and Zoom.First time mum, Lauren Pilling, 24 from Audenshaw, received a welcome phone call from Home-Start the day after arriving home with her daughter following discharge from Tameside Hospital.

Lauren said: “It was so reassuring to hear from the team especially in lockdown, and so early on.  I found them to be really supportive when it came to the soreness I was experiencing. As I couldn’t see them at one of their local breastfeeding drop-ins, they sent me a video so I could visualise how to reduce soreness and the need to use shields.

“They also gave me lots of helpful information around the importance of ensuring my breasts were fully drained during a feed. I also learnt about all aspects of expressing and storing breastmilk too.”

HOST have recently launched a Tameside New Mums Support Group on Zoom and every Wednesday at 11am Lauren chats to other new mums and peer supporters about any concerns she’s having about feeding her daughter.

Denise Farrow, Infant Feeding Service Manager at HOST, said: “The group is a really important way for mums to meet other mums and make friends. With Lauren, we also discussed the importance of responsive feeding in the early days in order to build supply and to use the volume of wet and dirty nappies to reassure that her daughter was feeding effectively and made contact again when her daughter was 10 days old.

“We also give Lauren lots of information to support a range of issues, such as ways of avoiding mastitis; signposting to resources around medication that maybe affecting feeding and information on safe storage of expressed breast milk.”

Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Population Health, Councillor Eleanor Wills, said: “As a mother of three young children and having breastfed all three, I can understand how vital this service is in helping new mums to breastfeed their baby successfully. There are many issues that can be encountered with breastfeeding and their support, especially online at this time, is vital in helping to reassure them.

“Having the ability to see someone and interact with them online is a great way to stay connected at this time, especially when so many new mums must be feeling the effects of not being able to see close family or friends.”

It’s never too early to start thinking about how you’re going to feed your baby and breastfeeding is the healthiest way to do it. Exclusive breastfeeding (giving your baby breast milk only) is recommended for around the first six months (26 weeks) of your baby’s life.  After that, giving your baby breast milk alongside other food will help them continue to grow and develop.

The Home-Start Infant feeding team is a service delivered by paid staff and volunteers.  Their duty phone is manned seven days a week during lockdown. To contact telephone: 07802 883947 and for the national breastfeeding helpline telephone: 0300 100 0212.

For more information visit https://www.tameside.gov.uk/health/breastfeeding or search for Home-Start Oldham, Stockport and Tameside on YouTube to see their videos about the benefits of breastfeeding.

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