Starting Well - Health
Breastfeeding has been shown to have a myriad of health benefits for both child and mother. The child will see a reduced risk in everything from childhood leukaemia to sudden infant death syndrome, and even cardiovascular disease in adult life, and the mother will reduce her risk of condition including osteoporosis and breast cancer. With this is mind, Hartlepool’s breastfeeding at initiation figures are particularly concerning.
The 2016/17 Breastfeeding at initiation show that Hartlepool has the lowest rate in the whole of England. Hartlepool’s figure of 37.9% of babies initiating breastfeeding within 48 hours of birth is not only the lowest figure in England, but the lowest level Hartlepool has achieved in 7 years.
Hartlepool are on a 2 year downward trend, which has seen it fall from it 2014/15 peak of 49.6%. This means that in 2 years the rate has fallen by 11.7%. The difference between Hartlepool’s rate and the England average in 2014/15 was 24.7%, but with the England average at a 7 year high of 74.5% in 2016/17 the gap is now 36.6%. If we compare Hartlepool to those authorities in England deemed most similar to Hartlepool, its Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) nearest neighbours, then the difference is clear to see.
Within Hartlepool, the difference between the most deprived areas and the least deprived areas for breastfeeding initiation is 12.4%.
For children aged 6-8 weeks the latest data for Hartlepool will be available in early 2019.
Local maternity hospitals have received the Baby Friendly Award. The Baby Friendly Initiative is a worldwide programme of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF. It encourages maternity hospitals to implement best practice standards and Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding based on solid evidence on what works to increase and support breastfeeding.
Our Health Visitors have previously been trained to support women with the practical side of breastfeeding and give information which will help them to sustain breastfeeding. This support is offered to all mothers and infant feeding choices are discuss with parents in the ante-natal period and the health benefits of breastfeeding explained. Daily Healthy Baby Clinics are ran throughout the town where parents can check their babies health and any feeding concerns with a Health Visitor and home visits are offered to support parents who may be having any feeding issues. Breastfeeding support groups run alongside the clinics some offer peer to peer support and some clinical support. As part of the 0-19 Healthy Child Programme Outcomes Breastfeeding status is recorded and reported on at six weeks. A breastfeeding lead Health Visitor attends regional and national networks to update the service on local and national good practice.
- Develop a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all Early Help Staff
- Incorporate breastfeeding policy into Healthy Weight strategy
- Train all the Early Help staff in the skills necessary to implement the breastfeeding policy
- Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
- Provide a welcoming atmosphere for breastfeeding family
- Assess service against baby friendly standards
- Work towards achieving the Baby Friendly Award
- Work in collaboration with peer led groups and parent advisors e.g. Empowering Parents Empowering Communities (EPEC) re best practice advice and guidance in breastfeeding.