Northern Ireland news

Breastfeeding support `still available during Covid-19'

The confidential one-to-one secure online chat is with a trained breastfeeding supporter

BREASTFEEDING new mothers have been told support is still available - despite a reduction in home visits from midwives and health visitors.

Janet Calvert from the Public Health Agency said help is always at the end of a phone for anyone who needs it, despite the coronavirus restrictions.

"We know that breastfeeding mums need support and with the reduction of home visits from health professionals we want to make sure you know you are not on your own," she said.

"It is important to know that even if you have suspected or confirmed COVID-19 that breastfeeding is still recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), and the well-recognised benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of coronavirus through breast milk.

"Other great benefits of breastfeeding which are particularly important during this pandemic are the fact that breastmilk is free and easily accessible."

The National Breastfeeding Helpline is available seven days a week from 9.30am to 9.30pm - 0300 100 0212 and also has a web chat breastfeeding support service for mothers and their supporters.

The confidential one-to-one secure online chat is with a trained breastfeeding supporter and works like instant messaging - just typing, with no webcams so the only people who can see the exchange are the user and the volunteer supporter.

"Breast milk provides all the nutrients your baby needs to grow and develop; it has very special ingredients such as antibodies, hormones and stem cells to help protect your baby now and in the future (and) helps to protect your baby from stomach infections, ear and chest infections, kidney infections as well as sudden infant death syndrome," Ms Calvert said.

"You can continue to keep up a good milk supply for your baby through enjoying lots of skin-to-skin contact, breastfeeding frequently and responsively, including through the night, and monitoring your baby's wet and dirty nappies to know that things are going well.

"Although we need to stay at home, there is still breastfeeding support available, both over the phone and online. The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone, reach out the support is there."

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