Sunday, 22 June 2014

The Importance of Breastfeeding Support

If it wasn't for the support I received from my mum, the hubby, my best friend, and the Infant Feeding Coordinator at the hospital, my breastfeeding journey with B would have been very different. But I also firmly believe that it is down to the official complaint that we made regarding our treatment by nurses and paediatricians at the hospital then, that our experience with M was quite different. The changes we said needed to be made had been put into place, and so we discovered that there was now an On-Call Infant Feeding Team; several people trained to identify and separate tongue-ties; and the Infant Feeding Coordinator was now responsible for providing breastfeeding training for paediatricians. 

The experience wasn't perfect. There were some new paediatricians who had managed to slip through the training net, informing me that I had to feed M for 10 minutes every 3 hours! I had the knowledge and confidence this time around to challenge them and point out that this went against their own infant feeding policy. But we were able to get the Infant Feeding Coordinator to see us very quickly, and she was brilliant. Overall, despite having to be in the hospital to deal with M's jaundice, we had a much more positive time than with B, and we were out much quicker too. 

I've said before that the key to getting the breastfeeding support you need is to make sure that you have educated yourself, so that you recognise whether the advice you're being given is poor or not. But I want to add to that. I think it is also important to make official complaints about poor support and lack of educated knowledge in paediatricians, midwives, nurses, GPs, Health Visitors and Children's Centre staff. It is unacceptable for health care providers and those involved in educating and supporting parents to give out unhelpful, discouraging and sometimes downright dangerous information to new parents. Please complain if you receive inaccurate breastfeeding information or dangerous advice. 

Equally, it is important to commend great support. Hospital funding may well be increased in areas where previous funding has been proved to have made improvements. The Infant Feeding Coordinator asked us to write a letter to the hospital to say how the swift tongue tie separation had vastly improved M's latch and her milk transfer. This would help her to justify the funding used to train herself and some of the midwives. It's so much easier to remember to complain about poor treatment, but praise is vitally important and necessary to encourage more improvement. 

Breastfeeding support isn't always amazing. We often have to hunt it out, relying on volunteers because those paid to give it don't seem to provide accurate information. And so it is down to us to educate ourselves and those we come into contact with, to point out poor treatment and to praise great support. It may not improve things immediately, but it will surely mean that our daughters will get better breastfeeding support. 

To read more about our experience first time around, click here.

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