As Parents in partnership volunteer mothers we are celebrating breastfeeding awareness week by recognising Bridgend as a breastfeeding community, where mothers in Bridgend are being supported to give their babies “the best start for life”.
Jamie Oliver is in schools working with children, demonstrating that the best nutrition provides the best results, talking about the calorific content and the resultant poor diet. We all need to think of starting before this, breastfeeding is the only fast food that is part on normal physiology and the reproductive cycle. We are fighting for women to regain control of what should be a woman’s domain, in becoming educated and providing each and every woman with the knowledge and skills that we have lost over the years with the introduction of formula milks with its resultant same effects as poor diet in the young children targeted by Jamie Oliver in his campaign for healthy school meals in children.
A baby has a natural intuitive choice to breastfeed; all its reflexes are deigned for a baby to make its way to the breast to initiate feeding. Education can give mothers a clear understanding of her baby and their abilities.
Our campaign in Bridgend has attained us over 80 breastfeeding peers supporters trained within the area, with seven support groups running, within Caerau, Bettws, Ogmore Vale, North Cornelly, Porthcawl, Bridgend and Brackla. We have also registered over 80 Premises around Bridgend that are ‘Breastfeeding Welcome.’ Mothers perpetuate the message to other mothers and normalise breastfeeding. For a mother to make a choice on feeding we will need education, there are no better educators than your peers. For each one of us that has benefited from education it has allowed us to spread the word, “walk the walk” and “talk the talk” and wear the t-shirt. We think it is admirable that all these mothers in our charity have taken these steps to benefit not only themselves but others.
Lu Rees, chair of PIPSW, commented:
‘Breastfeeding week for pipsw is an opportunity to celebrate not only the support for breastfeeding mums that is provided, but also the success of partnership working, which has enabled us as a charity to back into communities and give something back.
Our volunteers work hard to provide a high service of support to breastfeeding mums and do a fantastic job!
PIPSW started as a small voluntary organisation by a group of parents and midwives who had a vision to achieve a better outcome in our communities for new and expectant parents; 4 years later, we are achieving these outcomes.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every volunteer, both past and present who has contributed to the success of PIPSW.’
As an ongoing part of our campaign we challenged Mothercare stalls throughout Wales in conjunction with the Royal College of Midwives to become Breastfeeding Welcome a scheme run by the Welsh Assembly. During National Breastfeeding Awareness Week peer supporter mothers will be managing a stall within Mothercare in Bridgend. To date ten Mothercare stores have come on board, including Bridgend and Swansea. We have also approached leisure centres and libraries in the area to become breastfeeding welcome.
First Minister Carwyn Jones supports Parents in Partnership and states ‘I am pleased to be a supporter of Parents in Partnership Wales, and know of the good work that their dedicated team, and trained peer mentors carry out with Mums in the area. Breastfeeding has proven to be the best start that you can give to a new baby and I warmly welcome the news that stores in Bridgend are joining the “feeding friendly” scheme. It’s great that Parents in Partnership are raising awareness of this crucially important message.
To celebrate this we are all gathering together at Mothercare at 10.15am on Monday June 20th to give them their award, Wyn Griffiths Chair OF ABMU will be giving the award, and Deputy Mayoress of Bridgend Marlene Thomas will also be present. We are then doing a sponsored pram push/toddle waddle through Bridgend to the leisure centre that is also Breastfeeding welcome.
The pram /push toddle waddle is to raise funds for breast pumps for neonatal unit and other babies that have had early difficulties with feeding. We have three mums who have attended our support groups supporting this and willing to share their stories. They have had experiences with neonatal services and have some incredible stories.
Oliver’s mum, Melanie Johnson says ‘after Ollie was born I was left feeling shocked and numb, I was supposed to be enjoying a cuddle with my new baby while he happily breastfed. Instead he was 25 miles away in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Singleton Hospital undergoing a new cooling therapy that would reduce his chance of severe brain damage. Ollie was under sedation for 3 days and was then fed via a tube for another week. So I had to hand express to try and get some of the protein rich, antibody packed first milk (colostrums) and then use the breast pumps at the hospital every 2 to 3 hours to provide him with enough breast milk for his feeds. I was under a lot of pressure to keep up with the high demand for milk and I was also having difficulty establishing my milk supply because I was still recovering myself. Despite our difficult start I managed to breastfeed Ollie for 24 months. I feel that the amazing support I received has helped me to achieve this. Parents in Partnership support groups were fantastic as we could share our concerns and offer each other support during our breastfeeding experience. By breastfeeding Ollie, I truly believe it has been the best possible start for him and has helped him grow into the strong and bubbly little boy he is today.’
Mum to premature twins, Sarah Smiles tells her story. ‘Our twin boys were born 7 weeks early (33 weeks) at POW Hospital, Bridgend in November 2011. I was fortunate to have a trouble free delivery and afterwards our boys were taken to the Special Care Baby Unit. As they were so premature, they had to receive my breastmilk through a nasal tube as they did not yet have their suckle reflex. I was on the maternity ward for the first week where I used a pump to gather my milk. After a few days I was encouraged by the nurses in SCBU to put the boys to the breast as often as I could for them to familiarise themselves with the smell/touch etc, and eventually when the boys were almost two weeks old, they latched on for the first time. Once they were moved to the nursery I would put them to the breast every time their feed was due to wean them off the nasal feeding tube and for the final week, I was moved into the mother and baby unit so that they could be fed exclusively from the breast before coming home. During their stay, I received fantastic support from the staff that helped me and the boys master the art of latching on, and eventually the skill of feeding both at the same time – which came in very handy. The advice and support I received was outstanding and their encouragement was invaluable during the highs, and also the tearful lows, soon there was no stopping us! Six months on and I can honestly say I absolutely love breastfeeding my boys. Breastfeeding was always what I planned to do, and I’ll always be grateful for the support I received at the hospital, and also the continuing support I receive from my local breastfeeding group Parents in Partnership. I’d encourage everyone to breastfeed their babies, it’s the best experience I’ve ever had.’
Lucy Hutchins’s son Charlie had a difficult start to life after experiencing surgery at the Kings College Hospital London while still inside his mummy’s tummy. Lucy says ‘for Charlie and I, being able to go to a support group was so rewarding. After Charlie spending 7 weeks in intensive care, fighting for his life, it was gratifying to be able to go to the Parents in Partnership groups and act like a normal mum and son. The other mums at the support group supported me and treated Charlie like a ‘normal’ baby, which helped us adjust to the difficult start we’d experienced. The relaxed and supportive nature of the groups really helped and become an enjoyable part of our week.’
Cathy Dowling Head of Midwifery ABMU Healthboard said ‘although you would think breast feeding is such a natural thing its not always the case for every mother and their baby. There is strong evidence to suggest that support and accurate information from all health professionals and women who have had similar experiences is crucial to success. We have valued greatly all the hard work and dedication from the parents in partnership and all the support they have given not just women but the midwifery staff too.’
The leisure centre has fully supported the event and we are looking to celebrate the partnership working that has occurred across all Bridgend to make this happen. Lucy will talk on Charlie’s amazing start to life, and her determination to breastfeed. There will be stalls of interest to the mothers and play facilities for young children so that mums can enjoy a fun day.
There will be raffles for further fund raising and it is with thanks to local businesses in Bridgend and Mcarthur Glen that have donated raffle prizes.
On the 21st of June the mums of Ogmore Vale who are just now completing their training are launching their support group between 10.00am and 12pm at Ogmore Life Centre.
On the 22nd June we are celebrating by having a meeting where we are inviting health professional to join us in Neath Port Talbot hospital, there are now two support groups with a third planned for the area and many are that are breastfeeding welcome thanks to our mums. We are looking to expand our network to ensure mothers in Neath Port Talbot can have the same level of support.