Health officials in East Sussex are lending their support to the national campaign encouraging mothers to breastfeed their baby organised by the UK charity UNICEF’s Baby Friendly Initiative.
East Sussex County Council’s public health team is supporting National Breastfeeding Celebration Week (NCBW), running from June 18 to 27, which aims to promote the health benefits to mothers and babies of breastfeeding.
This year for NBCW, NHS England, Public Health England, The National Infant Feeding Network, Royal College of Midwives, Institute of Health Visiting and Unite/Community Practitioners’ & Health Visitors’ Association (CPHVA) will be supporting local and regional celebration events by sharing local resources on websites and through social media using the hashtag, #celebratebreastfeeding.
East Sussex is slightly above the national average, with 76 per cent of newborns being breastfed, but that figure varies across the area, falling as low as 65 per cent in Hastings, compared to 83 per cent in Lewes.
The council wants to spread the message that breastfeeding is the healthiest option for mother and baby, and to highlight the support that is available to new mums.
Cynthia Lyons, East Sussex acting director of public health, said: “Breast milk is perfectly designed for babies, protecting them from infections and diseases and providing long-term benefits for them into adult life.
“It also has health benefits for mums and can help to build a strong bond between mother and baby, but while it is totally natural, it’s not always easy.
“Health visitors, midwives and children’s centres are available to provide all the support mums need, while there’s also a wealth of information available online.”
New mothers are advised to feed nothing but breast milk for the first six months of their baby’s life, then continue to give breast milk alongside family foods for the first two years or as long as they and their baby want to.
If for whatever reason, it isn’t possible to breastfeed exclusively for six months, health visitors can also advise on the best way to feed the baby until they are ready for solid foods.
Breastfeeding reduces the risk of babies getting infections, diarrhoea and vomiting, sudden infant death syndrome and childhood leukaemia, and makes it less likely they will become obese or develop diabetes in adult life.
Meanwhile, breastfeeding for longer decreases the risk for mothers of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and obesity.
Breastfeeding is welcome in all East Sussex libraries and at local cafes and businesses which display the ‘Breastfeeding welcome’ sticker.
Support is available from midwives and health visitors, or through a free baby-buddy app including breastfeeding support videos, sources of local support and how to get in touch with local breastfeeding peer supporters.
The app can be downloaded online at www.bestbeginnings.org.uk/baby-buddy
For more information about how to participate in National Breastfeeding Celebration Week 2016, visit www.unicef.org.uk/BabyFriendly/News-and-Research/News/National-Breastfeeding-Celebration-Week-2016.