How did the Home-Start West Somerset Breastfeeding Support Service start?
Home-Start West Somerset works closely with local health professionals and considers them to be important stakeholders. They approached the scheme in 2013 to ask for our help to raise rates of initiation and continuation of breastfeeding in West Somerset.
Why is it important?
Breastfeeding contributes to the health of mother and child in both the short and long term and provides all the nutrients a baby needs. Breastfeeding protects babies from infections, contributes to the prevention of childhood diseases including diabetes and helps to tackle childhood obesity. Breastfeeding can help protect women from certain forms of cancer. The longer a mother breastfeeds, the greater the health benefits for her and her child. As well as the physical health benefits breastfeeding also has a significant role to play in healthy parent child attachment and positive family relationships.Three quarters of British mothers who stopped breastfeeding in the first 6 months (and 90% of those who stopped in the first 2 weeks) would have liked to have continued for longer. This suggests that more could be done to support them. Breastfeeding rates in the UK are among the lowest in Europe and in West Somerset are even lower than the UK average.
How does it work?
In partnership with the health visitors and midwives we established the Home-Start Breastfeeding Support Service to help those mothers who want to breastfeed to do so for as long as they choose. We have trained 13 volunteers, who all have experience of breastfeeding, to support other mothers by visiting them at home, through phone support as well as through support given at the local baby cafes (in Alcombe and Williton Children’s Centres) and at the ante-natal groups. Like all our support, this service is informal, confidential and friendly.
How is it funded?
This service has received valued financial support from the Minehead and West Somerset Golf Club, the Health and Wellbeing Fund and Watchet Roots.