National Breastfeeding Week is celebrated in the UK from the 20th to the 26th of June, with World Breastfeeding Week running from the 1st to the 6th of August. This extended period is a great time for new mothers and mothers-to-be to get acquainted with one new program for breastfeeding infants in particular, Start4Life. This program is spearheaded by the UK Department Of Health to encourage more mothers to breastfeed, and to help them breastfeed for longer.
Breastfeeding Infants in the UK
According to a June 2011 release from the UK government public health archives, breastfeeding infants has significant health benefits for both the babies and their mothers. Breastfeeding infants gives babies the best nutrition and improves their chances of fighting off infections. It should be continued for at least six months, according to health professionals, but less than half of mothers in the UK continue breastfeeding infants past the 8-week mark.
UNICEF encourages mothers worldwide to breastfeed longer with campaigns that educate mothers on its benefits, including promoting brain development and loving relationships and preventing disease and health risks. The UK Department Of Health supports the guidance received from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), which recommends an effort towards NHS facility accreditation. Through the Baby Friendly Initiative, it is hoped that primary healthcare providers and frontline staff will be better equipped to give new mothers appropriate care in this area.
Mothers in the UK are breastfeeding infants less than most mothers in other parts of the world according to a UK public health press release reporting the results of a survey commissioned by Public Health England (PHE). Only three quarters of the mothers surveyed breastfed at all. Many of these mothers reported that they were more concerned about obtaining baby equipment and clothes and preparing themselves for labour than they were learning about breastfeeding infants. About a quarter of those surveyed said that they regretted not learning more about breastfeeding infants before their first child. Unprepared, they more easily gave up when breastfeeding became a struggle.
Encouraging Breastfeeding for Longer
Access to more information about breastfeeding infants can make a real difference. This is what is behind the Baby Friendly Initiative, and what we at the Bamboo Factory are helping to promote.
Start4Life is a PHE program designed to make information about breastfeeding infants more readily accessible to new mothers. Many new mothers are either embarrassed to approach health care professionals for help, or cannot easily meet with one for advice. Start4Life provides a much more convenient alternative channel through the Breastfeeding Friend, a chatbot available on Facebook Messenger and a range of other platforms. The Breastfeeding Friend encourages both parents to adopt healthy behaviours and provides tips to help make breastfeeding infants easier. The chatbot is also available now as an Amazon Alexa skill. Mothers can conveniently ask questions about breastfeeding infants and get age-appropriate answers more privately.
Common difficulties with breastfeeding infants include getting the right position so that the baby is comfortable enough, getting adequate support to avoid painful muscle and joint strain for the mother, and preventing stress which can result in poor lactation and create further discomfort in the baby. At the Bamboo Factory, we have a variety of items that can help mothers adopt those healthy habits that will help them not give up on breastfeeding their infants. Among others, there’s the shredded memory foam bamboo pillow, an antimicrobial pillow that provides superior support during both breastfeeding and sleep. There’s also the reusable bamboo nursing pads that prevent embarrassing leakage in public without causing further irritation that can make breastfeeding painful. Both bamboo and memory foam are safe and healthy options for the whole family. With products such as these, breastfeeding infants can become the joy that it is meant to be rather than the struggle that causes most mothers to give up before they have reached the bare minimum period recommended for their babies’ well being.