Breastfeeding benefits for babies and mums highlighted

Alice Whitton with baby Emily and breastfeeding support worker Marisa Jones.
Alice Whitton with baby Emily and breastfeeding support worker Marisa Jones.

The latest ‘Take Time’ campaign is highlighting the health benefits of breastfeeding for babies and mums, and encouraging women to access the wide range of local advice and support available to mums who choose to breastfeed.

Good nutrition begins at birth and research shows that breastfeeding provides a number of health benefits for babies which can last into childhood and beyond.

In the early days, antibodies in breast-milk help protect babies and reduce the instances of common infections including tummy upsets, chest, ear and urine infections. In the longer term, babies who are exclusively breastfed are at a lower risk of diabetes and obesity.

The health benefits of breastfeeding also extend to mums, with studies showing that women who breastfeed are more likely to have a reduced risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer as well as stronger bones later in life.

Gina Graham, NHS Fife breastfeeding co-ordinator, said: “Breastfeeding is natural, healthy, convenient and free, with a number of associated health benefits for both baby and mum.

“Importantly, the skin-to-skin contact and closeness associated with breastfeeding also helps to build strong emotional bonds between baby and mum.

“For women who choose to breastfeed, there’s a wide range of local support available across Fife – whether that’s through a home visit, over the phone, online or attending a local group.

“We’re committed to providing mums with all the help and support they need, so that they are able to breastfeed for as long as they wish.”

The Breastfeeding Support Service is just one of the local initiatives providing assistance to mums. Specially trained support workers, based in community teams across Fife, work alongside midwives and health visitors to answer questions, build confidence, encourage and support breastfeeding mums through home visits or over the telephone.

Feedback on the service has been very positive, with women finding the support invaluable at what can sometimes be a challenging time.

One new mum who has benefited from the service is Alice Whitton.

She said: “The support service helped me through the first couple of weeks. It was good to have help coming in, answering the questions I had. Talking to somebody and having them reassure me that I was doing the right things.

“I felt that I could just phone and say ‘Help, I don’t know if I’m doing this right. Can you come round?’ The support was there and you didn’t have to wait.

“It’s a great service, having somebody who is relaxed and there to help you. That’s what you need.”

Other types of local support available include mum-to-mum peer support, local breastfeeding support groups and breastfeeding clinics.

To find out more about the range of support available for breastfeeding and further information on the Take Time to Eat Well Together campaign visit www.fifedirect.org.uk/families