Despite Covid-19 - a ray of golden hope to support breastfeeding mums across Hertfordshire

Posted: April 15 2020

Despite Covid-19 - a ray of golden hope to support breastfeeding mums across Hertfordshire

Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust (HCT) has been awarded gold accreditation, by the prestigious UNICEF Breast Feeding Initiative – the highest accreditation that can be awarded to a Trust.

HCT’s Public Health Nursing team were delighted to receive this accolade, especially while currently having to supporting mums with breastfeeding during the Covid-19 pandemic. Fortunately in recent months the team had already invested in thirteen new breast pumps. After a phone assessment with mothers, Health Visitors are able to organize the breast pump to be promptly delivered, helping to support mothers who may have had certain challenges and so continue breastfeeding and maximising production of breast milk for their babies. The Trust has now invested in more pumps and are giving pump sets to support more women in this difficult time.

According to UNICEF, there is a wealth of evidence that breastfeeding reduces the risk of babies developing infectious diseases. There are numerous live constituents in human milk, including immunoglobulins, antiviral factors, cytokines and leucocytes that help to destroy harmful pathogens and boost the baby’s immune system. There is no evidence at this time that Covid-19 can be passed through breast milk. Therefore, considering the protection that human milk and breastfeeding offers the baby and the minimal role they play in the transmission of respiratory viruses, it seems sensible to do all we can to continue to promote, protect and support breastfeeding.

In addition HCT has received a helping hand from four experienced breastfeeding mums (pictured above: from left to right: Katy, Amy, Catherine and Kelsey). They recently completed an eight-week training programme, becoming Infant Feeding Peer Supporters – a training programme which also supported HCT’s Health visiting service Baby Friendly Gold accreditation. These mums all have personal experience of breastfeeding their own babies. They provide a valuable role helping new mums to make informed decisions about feeding their babies and support breastfeeding for as long as they wish. The Public Health Nursing Team looks forward to welcoming them back to their baby clinics once it is safe to do so after the pandemic finishes.

Outside times such as Covid-19, these supporters help to reduce social isolation and offer parents the opportunity to socialise and exchange experiences. However due to current social distancing, this direct support has been replaced by sharing their knowledge and skills virtually on social media. The PHN Team is also posting relevant leaflets, links to videos via email and smartphones, plus regular telephone contact to assist mothers with any issues.

If anyone would like to receive any advice around breast feeding, please contact the Public Health Nursing Health Visitor service duty line on 0300 123 7572, open 08:00AM - 5.00PM Monday - Friday.

If you are a journalist or media representative requiring further information contact our communications team on (01707) 388148 or via communications@hct.nhs.uk