Swindon mums plan to unite and show the benefits of breastfeeding as part of a worldwide celebration called the Big Latch On, which is marking its tenth anniversary.
Breastfeeding women are invited with their children to join in the global synchronised breastfeeding event being held in the Forest Cafe at Lydiard Park on Saturday 1 August at 10am, marking the start of World Breastfeeding Week.
Although the number of breastfeeding mums in the Borough at six to eight weeks exceeds the national average, less than half of mums feed their baby this way.
Mum-of-two Clare, aged 33, joined the local support group Swindon Breastmates to help her with breastfeeding Skye, now 15-weeks-old. She said: “I was determined to successfully breastfeed Skye after failing the first time with Max, who is nearly two. I felt awful and didn’t realise there was all this free practical help and emotional support out there. After joining the group, I gained so much knowledge and also reassurance – sometimes just knowing someone is going through exactly the same thing and sticking with it together really helps.”
Despite struggling in the early days, Clare persevered and it’s reaping rewards as Skye is a healthy weight and thriving. She said: “I’m so pleased and it’s such a lovely feeling to see her satisfied after feeds and meeting all her milestones. It’s a myth that breastfeeding comes naturally to all mums – it certainly didn’t with me, but I’m so glad I worked at it and didn’t give up. Breastmates has been brilliant and I would encourage mums to make use of the support because there’s nothing to be embarrassed about with having problems along the way. You’ll get there eventually and I’ve also made new friends in the process.”
There is lots of evidence that breastfeeding is a healthy way to feed babies as it provides them with protection from infections and illnesses, ranging from stomach upsets to asthma. Breastfeeding has also been shown to reduce mums’ risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. More information about the benefits is available at www.nhs.uk/breastfeeding
Swindon’s free Breastmates support service aims to help mums who need practical advice and emotional support at what can be a very tiring and stressful time. There are nine active groups with dozens of volunteers and peer supporters which meet regularly, in addition to two National Childbirth Trust breastfeeding counsellors on hand to provide individual support and also online information and guidance via the website www.swindonbreastmates.co.uk and a popular Facebook group www.facebook.com/swindonbreastmates
Cllr Brian Mattock, Swindon Borough Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, said: “Swindon Breastmates is a fantastic group, which can be a real lifeline for local mums who are breastfeeding and need practical guidance or emotional support during what can be a difficult time. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the peer volunteers who give their valuable time, experience and expertise to help others – it really does make a difference. The Big Latch On is an opportunity to raise awareness of the huge benefits of breastfeeding as well as promote the wealth of free support on offer which all mums are very welcome to call on.”