Increase in Wigan breastfeeding queries as virus takes a hold
Concerns about access to formula milk has led to a surge in the number of Wigan mums choosing to breastfeed their babies.
Charity Breastfeeding Together has been “inundated” with requests for help from families wanting to either begin breastfeeding or return to it due to the coronavirus pandemic.
There have been reports of similar rises in demand in other areas of the country, as parents become concerned they are not be able to get formula milk for their babies.
Elinor Halliwell, project manager for Breastfeeding Together, said: “With many families self isolating this has caused worry with regard to purchasing formula milk and due to demand formula milk has been rationed in some supermarkets to a maximum number per family. We have had lots of women contacting us wanting to start breastfeeding or expressing again.
“We have been providing mothers with the information and help to enable them to try and start breastfeeding or expressing again.”
The charity provides a peer support services to families across the borough who decide to breastfeed their babies.
This did include antenatal and post-natal support, breastfeeding support groups, access to breast pumps and recognition of businesses that are breastfeeding-friendly.
But the organisation has had to change the way it helps parents during the pandemic.
Its community team is providing intensive feeding support for mothers and babies from birth to six to eight weeks via phone, text messages and Skype, with each community supporter having their own caseload of mothers to ensure continuity and flexibility.
The breastfeeding groups have been replaced with online groups which mothers can access to meet other breastfeeding mums and peer supporters. They run at various times during the week, both in the day and evenings.
Antenatal education sessions have been replaced with online one-to-one sessions with an antenatal peer supporter, which are available every day between 10am and 8pm.
Live chat continues between 7pm and 1pm every evening at www.breastfeedingtogether.co.uk, along with an extra session from 10am to 10pm each day to ensure families have access to feeding support.
Online support group Connect & Share runs 24 hours a day to help mothers connect with each other and receive support from other breastfeeding mums and peer supporters.
Ms Halliwell said: “We recognise for lots of families this will be an isolating time which is why we are providing plenty of opportunities for mums to connect with each other and also receive information and support from a team of experienced and highly skilled peer supporters.”
Alongside all the changes to its services, Breastfeeding Together has launched a new helpline. It is available between 10am and 10pm every day by calling 07742 234496.
Ms Halliwell said: “Due to a high demand from families we have introduced a new helpline so if families have any infant feeding questions in either the antenatal or postnatal period they can contact us and we can provide them with information, help and support.
“We are not medically trained so if families need medical support we will be signposting them on to the relevant services.”