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Breastfeeding 101
Post date: 27 Jan 2016

Breastfeeding is a hot topic at the moment, with a story making national news at least once a week. Our local public health team offer frequent breastfeeding drop ins which are facilitated by local breastfeeding mums who have undergone a training programme. We also offer a specialist breastfeeding clinic which is run, at Wayfield Children’s Centre and staffed by some of our health visitors and a midwife from Medway Maritime Hospital. The clinic offers a safe, friendly and welcome environment for new parents and will be familiar to many as lots of other local services are delivered from the centre. Breastfeeding

The clinic is run by Wendy Brownrigg, Medway Community Healthcare’s (MCH) health visitor, lactation consultant and infant feeding co-ordinator. It is supported on a weekly basis by Jo Maynard, midwife and infant feeding co-ordinator for Medway Hospital; Rachel Marsden, MCH health visitor; Amanda Bush-Smith, community nursery nurse; Rebecca Greenstreet, maternity support worker; and Sue Ward, health visitor. It runs every Monday morning from 9am until 12noon as a drop-in session. We will see every mother and baby that arrives before 11.30am.

We offer one–to-one support for women who are experiencing problems with breastfeeding their babies at any age. A majority of the babies that we see are less than six weeks old and they come with a variety of issues that mean that breastfeeding is painful or that babies are not gaining weight effectively.

We usually spend at least an hour with the mothers and babies, sometimes longer depending on the needs of the family. We take a full review of the mother’s past medical history, pregnancy, delivery, the immediate postpartum time and the first few days of the baby’s life. This often points us to where the issue lies and allows us to formulate a plan to improve breastfeeding for mum and baby.

We often see babies who may have a tongue tie, and who have been sent to us by other professionals for a referral for a frenotomy, (a procedure to divide the tongue tie). It is important to know that the tongue tie is rarely the only reason that breastfeeding isn’t successful. Often, working with families to achieve optimal positioning at the breast allows for a successful attachment.

Most of the work we do focuses on positioning and attachment – it may seem simple, but get it wrong and breastfeeding becomes nearly impossible!

Top tips when starting to breastfeed:

  • Immediate skin to skin contact between mother and baby after birth for as long as possible;
  • allow the baby to find the breast themselves or with help from mum;
  • health professionals to be hands off;
  • hold the baby in a position that allows the chin to touch the breast first and the nipple to point to the baby’s nose;
  • ensure that the baby has a wide open mouth and takes a large mouthful of breast.
  • the baby’s cheeks should stay round and full, and active swallowing should be seen and heard;
  • breastfeeding should not be painful – if it is consistently painful throughout a feed, there is a problem and the woman should ask for professional support;
  • in the first 24 hours a new baby will feed infrequently – maybe only 4-5 times; and
  • a new baby has a very tiny tummy – it can only hold a tiny amount of milk.

Want to find out more?

If any mother in Medway needs support with breastfeeding there are lots of places to go, www.abettermedway.co.uk/breastfeeding gives details of local support available and breastfeeding friendly venues. The local health visiting teams will also offer support and you can contact MCH’s health visitor, Wendy Brownrigg, on 07772 769939.
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