New mum praises local breastfeeding services for support
Wakefield-based new mum Nikola experienced pain breastfeeding not long after giving birth to her first child in October last year. Now, she is encouraging anyone struggling to reach out for support after the Wakefield Health Visiting Infant Feeding team helped her overcome the pain and continue breastfeeding.
Nikola started experiencing pain three weeks after giving birth to her daughter and struggled to find a solution to what it could be. She explained: “It was a huge journey figuring out what the problem was. I was at home in pain and didn’t know where to turn. We tried everything. I had a couple of appointments with consultants to see if my daughter had a tongue or lip tie, but both were ruled out. I didn’t fully understand how the 0-19 service worked either – I knew I could call any time to talk about my baby’s health, but she was fine; it was my pain I needed to talk about.
“I was really excited to breastfeed and always believed it would come naturally and feel instinctive. However, I didn’t realise how much of a skill it can be and how many hurdles you can face. I wanted to keep going though and was determined not to give up because I love the closeness it gives me and my baby.”
With no answers, Nikola contacted the Families and Babies (FAB) helpline and was referred to the Wakefield Health Visiting Infant Feeding team provided by Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust. She said: “I called them one day because I was in so much pain and just needed to talk to someone and see if anything could be done. No one had really observed me breastfeeding before because everything was done over the phone due to the pandemic, so I was struggling to explain what was going on.
“That’s when they arranged for me to see the Lactation Specialist, Ciara. She came to see me three times and helped me get to the bottom of what was causing the pain. Ciara went over all of my symptoms with me and observed some feeds. It turned out to be an infection in my milk ducts and I was able to get some medicine from my GP. Within two days of taking medication for the infection, most of the pain had disappeared. Ciara also taught us a better latch, which took care of the remaining discomfort. I’m completely pain-free now and feeding feels how it’s meant to be.”
Ciara Metcalfe, Breastfeeding Coordinator and Specialist Health Visitor, said: “Giving birth during the pandemic has presented many challenges to new mums. As we recover from it, I would encourage all mums who are experiencing breastfeeding difficulties to seek help. We are here to support you as you progress through pregnancy and adapt to becoming a parent, together with the local maternity and breastfeeding peer support services.
“There are many reasons why we support mums to make an informed choice about feeding and overcome these challenges. In terms of the baby’s health, it reduces the risk of developing a range of illnesses including infections, diabetes, asthma, heart disease and obesity. It lowers the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and supports the parent-child relationship and mental health of both. It also protects mothers from breast and ovarian cancer, as well as heart disease.”
Nikola described how being more isolated due to COVID-19 can make it harder to feel supported: “Mothers need much more postpartum support when it comes to things like recovery and breastfeeding. You have so many appointments when you’re pregnant, but beyond those first days postpartum, you find yourself suddenly on your own, just a few days after giving birth, with a body that is still healing. Covid made it much harder to see people and find support, so at times we felt quite alone.
“I was nervous to call the FAB helpline the first time. I thought it wasn’t a big enough problem as my baby was healthy and gaining weight well, but they were all so welcoming. They took us under their wing, supporting us with weekly phone calls, welcoming us to their breastfeeding group where we met lots of other mums, and arranging for us to see Ciara, who empowered me to continue breastfeeding and didn’t leave my side until I was feeling better. I would say to anyone struggling to reach out because there is so much support available if you wish to continue breastfeeding.
The Wakefield Health Visiting service achieved UNICEF Baby Friendly Accreditation in 2013, a nationally recognised mark of quality care. Their Infant Feeding service is led by a qualified Health Visitor and International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant. You can call the Health Visiting Single Point of Contact (SPOC) on 01925 310130, Monday-Friday 9.00am-5.00pm and speak to a health visitor for additional or specialist support.
You can also call the FAB service, who provide antenatal breastfeeding courses, and mother-to-mother support. Their helpline is available 24-hours on 01924 851901 and is run by parents who have breastfed and undertaken training to help others