Life

Ask The Expert: The NHS's new Breastfeeding Friend service can help new mothers

Lots of new mums need help and support around feeding, which the new NHS Start4Life service aims to provide.

New NHS service the Breastfeeding Friend from Start4Life has been launched to help new mothers

"I'M trying to breastfeed my new baby but am struggling because it hurts, and I don't think she's getting enough milk. I'm embarrassed to ask for help from my midwife again – are there any other things I should try before I give up?"

Viv Bennett, chief nurse at Public Health England, says: "Mothers and babies learn to breastfeed together and it's normal to have questions and sometimes experience setbacks.

"It's important that you seek advice so you can find what works best for you both. Your midwife and health visitor have helped many mothers to breastfeed and know that sometimes mothers need to ask for advice more than once, so don't be embarrassed.

"If your baby is feeding well, they should have a large mouthful of breast and take long sucks, with pauses from time to time. The first few sucks may feel strong, but shouldn't hurt.

"When your baby has finished feeding, they should come off your breast by themselves. If they're producing at least six wet nappies every 24 hours (from day five onwards) and gaining the right amount of weight, you can be reassured they're getting enough milk, but if you're worried, speak to your midwife or health visitor.

"New research has revealed that post-birth, nearly a quarter of new mothers wished they had read about and were more prepared for breastfeeding, and 26 per cent of those who'd given breast milk to their first child wished they'd known that asking for help can make a real difference.

"Although nearly a third of mothers felt embarrassed about asking for help with breastfeeding from healthcare professionals, two-thirds believed access to 24/7 breastfeeding support, such as a phoneline, website of chatbot, would make mothers more likely to have a positive experience of breastfeeding, as well as more likely to decide to try breastfeeding and breastfeed for longer.

"Now a new service, the Breastfeeding Friend from Start4Life (Facebook.com/Start4LifeBreastfeedingFriend), has been launched to help new mothers.

"There's also the Amazon Alexa voice service, providing NHS-approved advice any time of the day or night, and there's lots of information on the Start4Life website and from the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 0300 100 0212."

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