AS PART of this week’s World Breastfeeding Week, Worcestershire County Council has teamed up with the organisation running community hospitals and other health services in the county to promote the importance of feeding babies naturally.

The campaign run jointly by Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust and the county council will run until November and includes a number of posters in a range of locations including the University of Worcester as well as children’s centres, libraries, coffee shops, GP surgeries, pharmacies, supermarkets and elsewhere.

Currently about 72 per cent of babies in Worcestershire start breastfeeding but this drops to 44 per cent by the time they are six weeks old, despite midwives saying mothers should exclusively breastfeed until their child is six months old.

Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust’s breastfeeding coordinator Anthea Griffiths said: “There are many evidenced based benefits of breastfeeding for the physical and emotional wellbeing of both mother and baby, and this campaign is about ensuring people have the right information to make the best choice.

“Breastfeeding gives babies the best possible start in life and we want to make mums and those around them aware of the support available to get them started and to keep it up past the first few weeks.”

The campaign, which will also be run via social media, will target mothers-to-be in September, other parties such as fathers and grandparents-to-be in October and mums of children older than six weeks in November.

Evidence has shown the longer the mother breastfeeds the more pronounced the health benefits for both her and the baby are.

Worcestershire County Council cabinet member for health and well-being Cllr Marcus Hart said the county’s Health and Wellbeing Board was fully behind the initiative.

“It is not just about mothers. Fathers, grandparents and friends can all support women to breastfeed and local businesses such as restaurants can make sure that breastfeeding women are welcome,” he said.

“It would be great to see a real improvement in the numbers who breastfeed so that most women in Worcestershire are breastfeeding their babies for the first few months of life."

Specialist midwife for infant feeding at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch Caroline Payne said there were a number of services available to mothers-to-be in Worcestershire.

“Breastfeeding is a learnt skill, with the commitment and support of the people around you, you are more likely to be successful and it will be a positive experience,” she said.

“Mums-to-be need to find out as much as they can prior to the birth of their baby as this gives them knowledge and empowers them to do the best for their baby.”

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