Lanarkshire hosts breastfeeding summit

Friday 7th June 2019

Almost 200 professionals and volunteers at NHS Lanarkshire pledged to support breastfeeding at a summit earlier this week.

Irene Barkby, executive director of nursing, midwives and allied health professionals at the board, said the aim was to make Lanarkshire a place “where breastfeeding is the norm and build a supportive community around families to support breastfeeding”.

Earlier this week after the health board released new animations to dispel common misconceptions about breastfeeding.

The conference featured presentations from academics and an award ceremony recognising health visitor teams.

Attendees at the gathering also heard about a new initiative that teaches school children about breastfeeding and infant nutrition.

Des Murray, chief executive of North Lanarkshire council, said: “We strongly believe that lessons on infant nutrition at such an early age will help increase the number of mothers’ breastfeeding their babies in future years.”

“We are committed to encouraging more women to breastfeed. To do this we will ensure suitable breastfeeding facilities are available across North Lanarkshire and provide our staff with flexible working arrangements to support them when they return to work from maternity leave.

Health visiting teams from across Lanarkshire localities were awarded with the prestigious UNICEF ‘Baby Friendly’ Award, which recognises best practice to support breastfeeding and strengthen the mother-baby relationship.

Chief executive Calum Campbell said he was “delighted” to present the awards, stating: “Our health visiting staff routinely go the extra mile to ensure that mothers and their babies are given the best possible care.”

Dr Amy Brown, professor in child public health at Swansea University and author of ‘Breastfeeding uncovered – who really decides how we feed our babies’, also spoke at the event and discussed the impact society has on breastfeeding.

Dr Brown said: “Having a new baby is a stressful time for women. However, her body expects her to breastfeed and her body is set up hormonally for that. Breastfeeding is proven to dampen that stress as her body is less likely to have a physical stress response.”

Anne Marie Bruce, NHS Lanarkshire infant feeding development midwife, added: “How babies are fed is one of the most important decisions parents can make as it has life-long health implications for both mum and baby.

“We are working hard to ensure mums know although breastfeeding is natural, learning how to make it work for you both takes time and patience. Additional support is always available.”