[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 19 May 2006, 10:13 GMT 11:13 UK
'I couldn't breastfeed my baby'
By Jane Elliott
BBC News health reporter

Cherise Jones
'I am still breastfeeding'
For the first nine weeks of baby Emiley's life, her mother was unable to breastfeed her.

A traumatic 46-hour labour with forceps and ventouse had left Emiley and mother Cherise Jones, feeling very sore, and the baby was reluctant to breastfeed.

Doctors had been worried about Cherise's heart during the labour and needed to monitor her carefully.

Two hours after the birth she was given the all-clear. But Emiley, whose head was sore following her delivery, would not latch onto the breast.

Support

The next day things were no better and when the pair were discharged from hospital Cherise, aged 25, was expressing her milk to bottle-feed her baby.

"I spent four days trying to breastfeed, but there was not the support to help me at the hospital.

"Everyone in my family had either not breastfed themselves, or they had done it so long ago that they were unable to help," said Cherise.

Here I am nearly nine months later still breastfeeding
Cherise Jones

"I got myself an electric breast pump and expressed.

"I was upset I was not breastfeeding and avoided other mothers."

Then she heard of a new cafe, which had opened in her town of Wymondham, in Norfolk.

The 'Baby Cafe' is especially for breastfeeding mums, their relatives and children.

It allows them to get practical help from experts and meet other breastfeeding mums over tea, coffee and cakes.

Cafe

"I went to the cafe and they told me I could still breastfeed," said Cherise - and she succeeding in breastfeeding her child that night.

"I met the health visitor and she reintroduced me to breastfeeding. It was the first time that anybody had said to me that I could still breastfeed.

"I got so much support it was fantastic.

"She even came to my house that night to help me, and by the time she came I had managed to get Emiley latched on.

"She was not breastfeeding, but it was the first time she had ever latched on. The health visitor helped me to get her to feed.

"All I needed was someone to encourage me.

"I would go to the cafe and the other mums would say 'How is it going? Are you still breastfeeding?'

"Before I went to the cafe, I nearly gave up and yet here I am nearly nine months later still breastfeeding. It is fantastic."

Statistics

Margaret Holtz set up the Wymondham cafe after becoming worried by the number of women in the town who failed to continue to breastfeed, Nursing Standard magazine reported.

Although 75% of women started to breastfeed, by 10 days that number had slumped to just 30%.

The cafe was such a success that we now have four up and running in the area and we have another three set to open next month
Margaret Holtz

"It is criminal," Margaret said.

Hearing of a similar scheme in London, she decided to see whether she too could encourage women to feed for the recommended six months

Research shows that breastfeeding has major health benefits for babies and their mothers.

It can reduce gastro-intestinal problems and childhood obesity, and in mothers it cuts the incidence of breast cancer and osteoporosis.

Margaret targeted women who were 35 weeks pregnant, told them about the cafe, and invited them to come when they had given birth.

In the first six months alone the cafe, which has now been open a year, attracted 750 new mums.

Some women even travelled up to 25 miles to attend the Monday morning sessions.

"What we have done is basically to set up a cafe like any other with tea and cakes, nice table cloths as well as a place where the women can get advice.

"The cafe was such a success that we now have four up and running in the area and we have another three set to open next month."

Margaret's cafe, which is part of a network which now includes 70 nationally, was considered so inspirational she won 'Dettol Health Visitor of the Year' for her work and has been featured in the Nursing Standard.

Heather Welford, breastfeeding counsellor and tutor for the National Childbirth Trust, said the 'Baby Cafes' were excellent support groups for mothers.

"I think they are a very good example because they have good quality control.

"It is more than just groups of people getting together. If you go there you can be sure that there is a person there trained to help with breastfeeding.

"Women going to these cafes get a mixture of friendship and support and trained support."

May 14-20 has been designated National Breastfeeding Awareness week and volunteers from the Breastfeeding Network (BfN) will be attending special events to promote the benefits of breastfeeding.

A spokeswoman for BfN said women needed to know there was a support network to help them.

"With many mothers struggling with breastfeeding and feeling pressure from both society and family members, BfN wants them to be aware that help is available everyday and there are a large number of dedicated volunteers willing to assist mothers with any queries or concerns they may have."


SEE ALSO:
Fines threat over breastfeeding
20 Jul 04 |  Scotland


RELATED BBC LINKS:

RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific