Thursday, 26 November 2015

Support the breastfeeding drop-ins! Nearly 80 women have already written last year

Photo of Maria Miller MP visiting Brookvale to talk to mums, taken by Lucy Crick Photography


Have you used the following drop-ins that Hampshire BFCs run or do you plan to in the future - your local service is at risk with grant funding ending in March 2016 - Chineham, Tadley, Overton, Whitchurch, Kingsclere, Andover (Spring Meadow). If you have used Brookvale this drop-in is half funded by grants and half funded by fundraising - so the service as it is, is also at risk. If you are an Eastleigh mum, the drop-ins there are also grant funded until March 2016 (by grants from the Borough Council with the service delivered by our colleagues) with no secure prospect after this time.


Please read on for the key email addresses. Letter writing earlier this year got Maria Miller MP involved and allowed us some extension to funding but despite meetings with colleagues at HCC to discuss support no commitment has been forthcoming to the model of breastfeeding support with a qualified breastfeeding counsellor. Please address your email to:

· Patricia Stallard (the Executive Member for Public Health at Hampshire County Council) and

· Dr Sallie Bacon (who is leading a project looking at the model of breastfeeding support across Hampshire). Please cc your email to: · Nicky Adamson-Young who is responsible for Health Visiting across Hampshire and · Your MP (for example Maria Miller (Basingstoke), Kit Malthouse (Kingsclere, Overton and Whitchurch), Ranil Jayawardena (Tadley) or Mims Davies (Eastleigh). If you cc your MP they will need your address and postcode as they can only reply to their constituents.

· Please cc Fiona Robertson, one of our breastfeeding counsellors, so that we can keep a record of your support. All the email addresses you need are further down this post for your convenience.

What to say The key relevant information you might include is
•How was the support you received from a breastfeeding counsellor at one of our drop-ins DIFFERENT from that provided by midwives and health visitors (and therefore why is it needed as well)?

•Some of those responsible for decision making, and who hold the purse strings, say that they are already funding breastfeeding support (which indeed they are through Maternity and Health Visiting) and they wonder what the gap will be in provision should the breastfeeding drop-ins cease to exist. What do you think?

•There are many savings if mums are supported to breastfeed. Have you experienced PND, hospital readmission for poor weight gain when breastfeeding went badly, GP visits, paediatric visits.... tell them about your personal experience.

•It is often suggested that breastfeeding counsellors "just" support emotionally well, middle class, British born mums who can get to our drop-ins. We know we support all mums who need support feeding their babies... Were you born overseas? What particular challenges do you face? Did you experience anxiety and depression postnatally? Are you a young mum or a single parent? Did you have a difficult breastfeeding experience first time and then successfully feed the second time? Let those who make decisions on spending know why they need to support the service.

•Which of the following drop-ins did you visit for support? Brookvale (Basingstoke), Chineham, Tadley, Whitchurch, Overton, Kingsclere or Andover. Or have you accessed support in Eastleigh that is funded through the Borough Council, using the same model we use?

•Include your address and postcode when emailing your M.P. as they need to know you are one of their constituents in order to act on your behalf You don’t have to write a lot. Some of the effective emails written previously were just a couple of paragraphs. If you can, please explain how and why it was that qualified breastfeeding counsellors made the difference for you.

If you wrote before please write again, these are different key people.

Email addresses are below for Patricia Stallard, Sallie Bacon, Nicky Adamson-Young and local MPs (do check who YOUR MP is – they can only respond to their own constituents) and please copy me, Fiona Robertson, breastfeeding counsellor. To:; Cc:; Also CC your MP:; OR OR OR (remember MPs need your full address in order to act on your behalf)

Background - Why are we asking for your support? Earlier this year the second grant we had received for the drop-ins in Basingstoke, Andover and the rural areas came to an end. Nearly 80 women who had had support from us wrote emails to people who we thought might be influential in ensuring there was ongoing funding made available. These letters and lobbying by mothers (including the involvement of local councillors and MP) were effective in getting Hampshire County Council to provide some interim budget for the drop-ins until the end of March 2016. The public health team at Hampshire County Council have since been working on looking at how breastfeeding is supported across the county and plan to develop a model of support which can be put in place from April 2016. My colleague, Mindy Noble, and I have been attending meetings with that team to try to ensure that the voice of mothers like you is heard and also to put forward the case that the support provided by qualified breastfeeding counsellors in community drop-ins like the one you have visited are an essential part of breastfeeding support alongside the usual provision from midwives and health visitors. There had been some suggestion (though no firm statement) that the specification for commissioning Health Visiting could be changed so that the service included specialist qualified breastfeeding counsellors. At our most recent meeting this seemed to have been a misunderstanding on our part, and the lead of the project Dr Sallie Bacon confirmed that they were looking at a possible "reconfiguration" of the midwifery and health visiting support rather than any more significant changes which might have made it possible to have ongoing funding for breastfeeding support provided by qualified breastfeeding counsellors. In addition, the two year grant that is funding Eastleigh drop-ins ends in March 2016, so Eastleigh breastfeeding drop-ins are now also at risk with no secure future from that date so these mums also need to join you in writing. This means, again, it is looking likely that our local drop-ins will close. So… we are asking for your support please. Thanks!

Best wishes and many thanks

Fiona Robertson, Breastfeeding Counsellor (on behalf of all of the whole team of Breastfeeding Counsellors who provide support at these drop-ins).

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Baby Friendly conference 2015 - day 2

Harrogate UNICEF, Baby Friendly Initiative, conference 2015. Day 2

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Harrogate, 2015 UNICEF, Baby Friendly Initiative #BFconf

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Nothing personal... Should breastfeeding be done at home because it's 'personal'?

This morning again I heard someone say that they would feel awkward if they saw a mother breastfeeding in public because it’s so ‘personal’. That’s an argument that often comes back in discussions around breastfeeding in public, it’s ‘personal’ so it should be done behind closed doors.
Does that mean that it’s the only ‘personal’ moment that passes between a mother and her baby? Does that mean that fathers don’t share anything ‘personal’ with their baby? And what about formula feeding mothers? I think that a lot of what passes between a child and her parents is very ‘personal’, i.e. characteristic of their own, close, special relationship and that they don’t share anything similar with anybody else.
I have a picture of my husband with our first daughter. She must have been around 15 months. He was holding her in his arms. His nose just touched her cheek. His eyes are closed and he is smiling. I think that it was a very personal moment between them. Does the picture make anybody feel awkward? No. How would it be received if I posted it on social media? I honestly think it would mostly generate a benign indifference. Now, if I had a picture of myself breastfeeding the same daughter, with the same loving expression on my face and I posted it on social media, what the reaction be? Exactlly…
If a mother nuzzles and kisses her baby’s neck, that’s personal, isn’t it? At least I think it is. I certainly would not want just anybody nuzzling and kissing my baby’s neck. If people witness a mother nuzzling and kissing her baby’s neck, how would they react? They might go ‘Aw…!’ Or smile indulgently and remark to their neighbour ‘How cute is that?’ I doubt that they would write an article about it, or tweet about it because it happened where they’re working - as some employees in restaurants have reportedly done - or take a photograph of the mother and try and shame her on social media.
Nor does breastfeeding always feel that ‘personal’ to a mother. When you’ve been breastfeeding for weeks, months, and that every time that you sit down to have your own meal your baby is hungry, then you feed your baby and get on with feeding yourself without necessarily gazing into your baby’s eyes and sharing a special moment with her. Is it still a ‘personal’ moment then? My own experience as a mother, in such a situation, was that it was just feeding my baby in relative comfort: no crying and I’m eating myself so everyone's a winner.
What makes ‘personal’ moments so special between parents and baby, by the way, is the release of oxytocin. We release oxytocin in lots of different situations when we feel content, happy, connected. When we share a cup of coffee or a glass of wine with good friends, when we hug someone, when we play with our children, etc. Are all these things anything to be ashamed of or hide?
And yes it’s a breast, yes it’s in somebody’s mouth. Others have written extensively on the mistake it is to associate breasts and breastfeeding with anything that has to do with sex. Breasts are not sexual when a woman walks in the street, talks with men, works, feeds her baby. Fingers and hand can be very erotic in context, and yet nobody sees any sexual meaning in a handshake, a comforting hand on the shoulder or a mother stroking her baby’s cheek. That’s the same with breastfeeding, the same!
It can be personal but so can hundred of other human interactions be, and it’s not sexual. End of.


Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Breastfeeding in public - by Hema

I’m a small chested girl trapped in the body of a big chested girl.  I’ve never been  comfortable with having whoppers so I knew the whole pregnancy and breastfeeding thing was going to be tough on me.  Apart from trying to find clothes that fitted my  top half, breastfeeding in public became the ultimate challenge.  The Mama scarf I  had bought pre-birth proved to be too small and such a fiddle that it drew more  attention to myself as baby squirmed and wriggled.  I would break out in a sweat trying to keep my eye on everyone else's gaze while making sure I didn’t reveal myself.

I was not a cool breastfeeding Mum and paranoid thoughts fuelled by the  comments of the few dominated these moments. It’s hard, very hard to conceal such generous proportions but when baby is wailing on  a hot summers’ day, I was forced to sit somewhere and pull myself together.  I tried to read people's faces,  see if they knew and were judging me.  I tried to be casual  and pleasant in the hope that either nobody would notice or that they would be nice about it.   In  the end I  wasn’t over-exposing myself and as I had picked National Trust gardens,  I may have benefited from the relaxing atmosphere.  After a while, I became quite good at finding solitary corners and adopting a subtle manner.

Of course, if I stopped breastfeeding, they would return to their normal size (yes,  still going on about that) which would have made me feel better.  However, something unexpected had taken place.  This tiny little being had done away with  some -although not all- of my vanity.  Or maybe it was because I had fought tooth and nail to make breastfeeding work that I needed it to go beyond my planned six months.  In fact, I continued until my daughter was around seventeen months old for many  reasons; some good, some silly, some just plain egotistical.  However, from difficult  beginnings, breastfeeding had transformed into something rather beautiful.

It had taken six to nine months to recover from the shock of motherhood so I had only just  begun to really appreciate my baby as I had imagined I would and giving up  breastfeeding at its highest point suddenly seemed like saying no to Daniel Craig, it's  nuts.

Hema Simkins

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Valuing mothers - a breastfeeding counsellor's perspective

Here is another picture I found on Pinterest (yes I know, I often refer to Pinterest! It's probably my preferred social network). I hope you can zoom in and actually read it! If not you can see it here.

I think this short text is absolutely brilliant. It illustrates perfectly one of the core principles of counselling, what American psychologist Carl Rogers called Positive Regard or, in lay terms, to value, respect, care for.

It's something essentially important for a breastfeeding counsellor and the dramatic fact of our profession... *holds the back of her hand to her forehead, Shakespeare-like* ... is that, because we are passionate about breastfeeding, others sometimes think that we only value breastfeeding when, actually, we value whatever a mother does for her baby because we value The Mother first.

It is possible to be passionate about breastfeeding and care deeply for a formula feeding mother! And vice versa : it is possible to deeply value a formula feeding mother and be passionate about breastfeeding!

Anne x

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Breastfeeding art

Once you start looking there are many beautiful works of art depicting breastfeeding. I have chosen a few to share. I like the stories they are telling, like that first one, set in a factory. I also like the fact that some of these pictures are going back as far as the early 17th Century but they all feel so close to us, it's very easy to relate to the mothers.

This is a fragment of 'La Cigarreras' (The Cigar Girls) by Gonzalo Bilbao, Seville, 1915. Mothers were allowed to take their baby with them to feed them and could use small factory cots.

'Les âges de l'ouvrier' by Brussels' artist Léon Frédéric, 1897. This is the third part of a triptych representing the life of workmen : the working men, the children and youth, the mothers and infants.

 'A Lapp Mother and Child' by Nico Wilhelm Jungmann, 1905. A well bundled up baby for breastfeeding in cold climate !

'Mother and Child', attributed to Hugues Talbot, beginning of the 21st Century. Such a homely feeling to this scene by the fire.

'The Family' by Dementi Shmarinov, 1957.

'Nurturer' by Anna Rose Bain. A modern breastfeeding scene, not so different from much older representations, such as this following one.

'Mother and Child' by Pieter de Grebber, 1622.

'The Holy Family with Sheperds' by Jacob Jordaens, 1616. Mary's milk is highly symbolic in religious art.

'Young mother nursing her child' by Mary Cassatt, 1906. So much tenderness in that picture... I love the gesture of the child reaching for his mother's mouth and the mother holding her baby's foot.

A Lady Nursing her Child in a Drawing Room, by François-Guillaume Ménageot, early 19th Century. She looks as if she just came back or was going to go out but her baby needed a feed !

'First Born' Gustave Leonard de Jonghe, 1863 . Peer support ? :)

Silence! By Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 1759. You can just imagine how this young mother might feel, with one nay asleep in her arms, a very small child asleep too - which might be a rare occurrence - willing the oldest to not disturb them.

'Lady Mary Boyle and her son Charles' c.1700 by Sir Godfrey Kneller. An unusal portraying of an English lady.

Multi-tasking by Ricky Mujica. Do I need to add anything ?!

Bertha Wegmann c. 1900. I wonder what's the story behind that picture... Was the mother working in the fields, carrying her babies? Again, observe the deep tenderness between mother and child! Beautiful.