National Breastfeeding Awareness Week is being marked in Inverclyde by the launch of a brand-new team of Infant Feeding Co-ordinators, and the unveiling of an exciting competition. As the country marks the annual focus on breastfeeding, the new team of specialists are trying to spread the message across Greenock and Port Glasgow that "breast is best".
The Infant Feeding Co-ordinators will be a popular sight across the county. In conjunction with partners in the public and voluntary sector, the team are planning a programme of work at venues across Inverclyde, including employers, schools, nurseries and community groups, trying to spread the breastfeeding message to anyone and everyone who can support mums.
Catriona MacLean and Karen Callery are the two Infant Feeding Co-ordinators. Catriona believes it's everyone's job to help give babies the best start in life: "The majority of women here in Inverclyde choose not to breastfeed, despite the health benefits for both Mum and baby. Evidence suggests a lack of local support may be a factor."
The main focus for the team at Inverclyde will be trying to spread the "breast is best" message throughout the community – providing high quality information on the benefits of breastfeeding in the hope of eventually changing the local culture. In some parts of the Inverclyde area breastfeeding rates are among the lowest in Scotland. Only 11.7% of mothers in Greenock South East are still breastfeeding at six to eight weeks, compared to a Scottish average for 2005 of 37.7%. But in neighbouring Kilmacolm, almost two thirds of mums are still breastfeeding at this stage.
Karen Callery believes the local community can provide valuable support for breastfeeding mothers: "Businesses, for example, can do a lot to help. Very often all it takes is a couple of alterations to allow nursing mothers who are back at work to feed or to express milk. Acceptance and support from dads and families can make it easier for mothers, and shops and restaurants can go a long way too by providing a comfortable environment for a nursing mother."
One way the team are trying to get the message out is by launching an exciting competition with the chance to win an Ipod Nano™. They're looking for the best rap, poem, painting or drawing on the benefits of breastfeeding. The competition is open to anyone in the area, with entries being displayed at local venues throughout the summer.
Breastfeeding has health benefits for both mother and baby, with advantages extending beyond infancy and into childhood. These include protection against ear infections, chest infections, wheezing, childhood diabetes, asthma, eczema, diarrhoea and gastro-enteritis. It also promotes brain development, mouth and jaw formation and straighter teeth. Mothers can also enjoy a lower risk of ovarian cancer, pre-menopausal breast cancer and osteoporosis.
Notes for editors
Competition closes Friday 30th June 2006. First prize is an Ipod Nano™, second prize an mp3 player and third prize a CD voucher. Entries should be submitted to [email protected]. Names, ages and contact details should be marked on the back of all entries. All entries are non-returnable and may be used to promote the benefits of breastfeeding.Entries can be submitted to main reception desks of Port Glasgow or Greenock Health Centres, addressed to the Infant Feeding Co-ordinators.