An NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde strategy to improve the long-term health of mums and babies is being rolled out to Renfrewshire.
Increasing breastfeeding rates can make an important contribution and it is one of the key priorities of the Infant Feeding Strategy launched by NHS GGC.
Linda Wolfson, NHS GGC’s Infant Feeding Co-ordinator, explaining the benefits of breastfeeding for mum and baby, said:
“Breastfeeding can make a major contribution to an infant’s long-term health and development, reducing the incidence of conditions such as gastroenteritis, eczema and asthma.
“It is also linked to better health outcomes for the mother, including cutting down the risks of breast and ovarian cancer, osteoporosis and obesity.”
The strategy is aimed at promoting and supporting the best nutritional choices for all babies and infants from 0-2 years.
Over the next four years health care staff will also be working to establish lifelong healthy eating habits, increase the use of appropriate vitamin supplements, and reduce health inequalities.
The three key strands of the strategy look at providing more staff training to provide support for mums and babies, closer monitoring of standards of care and raising public awareness and acceptability of breastfeeding.
Fiona Mackay, Head of Planning and Health, Renfrewshire Community Health Partnership (CHP)said:
“Breastfeeding can lay the foundations of a healthy life for new-borns throughout Renfrewshire and also reduce health risks to mums.
“We have an excellent breastfeeding support network throughout the area and I would encourage mothers to find out more about the help and advice that is available.”
The breastfeeding target for Renfrewshire is to have 28.4 per cent of newborn children exclusively breastfed at 6 - 8 weeks by 2010/2011.
According to the most recent data, for the quarter April - June this year, local rates stand at 22.5 per cent.
Action has also been taken to improve professional communication including a new handover of care document which is being made available at all six maternity units throughout NHS GGC.
These documents will provide health visitors with information on a child’s feeding from birth.
Public consultation has influenced the new approach via focus groups and individual responses.
Linda added: “During the focus groups mothers made simple suggestions for improving breastfeeding support, such as having someone to sit with them for one whole breastfeed and teach them how to feed their baby.”
The target age group has been chosen because it is a critical period for infants.
Poor nutrition at this time can lead to illness and fatalities, and also cause delayed mental and motor development, impaired intellectual performance and future work capacity.
The launch also highlighted the local action in Renfrewshire that is being developed to implement the strategy, and presentations on the day were made by Linda Wolfson, Ruth Walsh, a Renfrewshire Health Visitor, and Carolanne Lamont from the BfN, (Breastfeeding Network).
Renfrewshire BreastBuddies also attended to answer questions about the new Buddying scheme due to be started by the BfN and the Renfrewshire Good for U project.
Local mums as well as health professionals and key partners were also invited to attend.
Any new mum looking for more information about breastfeeding should contact either Maria Laverty on 01505 821 621, Ruth Walsh Health Visitor on 01505 813 119, Ailsa Fulton at the RAH maternity hospital, 0141 314 7371 or their local health visitor.
For more information contact NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Communications on 0141 201 4429.