City Hospitals Sunderland
NHS Foundation Trust
Gillian Lund – Public Health Midwife
The evidence is well established for the benefits to mother and baby of breastfeeding, with breastfeeding having some of the most wide-reaching and long lasting effects on a baby’s health and development, more than anything else Mums can do for their newborn.
Any amount of breastfeeding has a positive effect on Mum and baby and the longer breastfeeding continues, the longer the protection lasts and the greater the benefits. However, Sunderland has some of the poorest 6-week breastfeeding compliance rates, therefore in my role as Public Health Midwife with the lead for infant feeding and smoking in pregnancy I felt it was important to look at strategies to compliment our existing practice in supporting Mums to continuing with breastfeeding once discharged from hospital to help ensure that as many Mums and babies can benefit from the benefits.
Flo has already been used successfully within our gestational diabetes and mild pregnancy-induced hypertension pathways and therefore provided an opportunity to look at how we could support, engage and motivate mums once discharged to continue with breastfeeding via an approach that is convenient and accessible at this important time of life.
Therefore Flo was integrated into our existing breastfeeding pathway at City Hospitals Sunderland as a compliment to the support already offered by our maternity team for 6 weeks post-discharge. When breastfeeding is initiated, Mums are already seen by one of our Maternity Care Assistants who provide education and guidance to support the early stages of breastfeeding. Now Flo is also offered at this point to Mums whilst in hospital to extend this early impact and to increase the motivation to carry on once back at home. The messages were designed to be helpful, and are timed at key points in baby’s development where known challenges with feeding can occur so feel relevant and timely. In fact some Mums who have stopped breastfeeding still found the messages relating to normal baby behaviour useful and reassuring.
The outcomes are being evaluated more formally supported by the North East and North Cumbria Academic Health Science Network however feedback from both new Mums who had not previously experienced breastfeeding support and also those Mums who had received support at prior births without Flo has been overwhelmingly positive reinforced by a significant increase in our breastfeeding rates at 6 weeks.
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