Mums across Essex have been discovering some unexpected benefits of lockdown, with many women finding protected time to breastfeed due to fewer visitors and more time at home.
Midwives at Basildon Hospital have noticed an increase in breastfeeding since lockdown began a few months ago; news all the more welcome as this week is International Breastfeeding Week.
Lisette Harris, a Specialist Midwife for Infant Feeding at Basildon Hospital, said: “This year has been an extraordinary time for everyone, but it is so positive to hear that many women have found more time to breastfeed during the last few difficult months.
“We’ve seen a real spike that I’ve not seen in over ten years of doing this job, 7% higher in one month compared to what it had been prior to lockdown. Mums have told us it has been because of a combination of things; they’ve not been coming into hospital, had less visitors or disturbances, or didn’t want to go to the shops for formula.”
One new mum who has felt more relaxed breastfeeding during lockdown is Sarah from Basildon. She’s only had people round in the garden since Isla was born towards the end of July, so hasn’t had many interruptions allowing mum and baby time to bond as a family.
Not that it was always that way. Sarah had always wanted to breastfeed but it was something she struggled with until she got the help she needed from one of the Maternity Care Assistants on Cedar Ward, Tia Ogilvie.
Sarah said: “I got really upset that I couldn’t breastfeed at first. Tia took her time with me and showed me great empathy. She sat with me for a long time and showed me how to breastfeed, introduced me to the pump and reassured me that everything will be okay. If it wasn’t for her I would have given up. I continued to express when I got home and can now breastfeed! This is all down to Tia’s patience and help.”
According to Unicef and the World Health Organization’s The Baby Friendly Initiative, improving the UK’s breastfeeding rates would have a profoundly positive impact on child health. For example, increasing the number of babies who are breastfed could cut the incidence of common childhood illnesses such as ear, chest and gut infections and save the NHS up to £50 million each year.