Unite’s Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association (CPHVA) has teamed up with Public Health England (PHE) to promote the benefits of breastfeeding in a new video animation.
The video, launched this week to coincide with Breastfeeding Celebration Week (June 17-23), highlights in particular the health benefits of skin-to-skin contact both immediately after birth and in the early weeks of a baby’s life.
The awareness campaign comes at a time when rates of breastfeeding in the UK are especially low compared to other countries – only 44 per cent of mothers in England breastfeed their children between 6 and 8 weeks of age. By 6 months of age, this figures drops to only 1 per cent.
The health benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and baby have long been documented and scientifically verified. For mothers, breastfeeding can help reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, Type 2 diabetes, as well as post-partum depression.
Breastfed babies, especially those who have had regular skin-to skin-contact with their mothers, form vital emotional bonds that build resilience later in life. Breastfeeding has also been shown to protect against infections and prevents obesity, diabetes and asthma when children are older.
That breastfeeding is far more economical than baby formula – which can cost more than £600 a year – was another advantage highlighted by the CPHVA and PHE.
The animation video features a new mother who shares her experiences of breastfeeding her twin babies. She highlighted both the challenges she faced as well as the rewards.
CPHVA and Public Health England have this year targeted Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) women in particular because although BAME mothers have historically breastfed at higher rates, the numbers have fallen in recent years as more and more adopt formula feeding.
Unite professional officer Obi Amadi said that the CPHVA was proud to have been part of the production of a video for Breastfeeding Celebration Week.
“Everything we used in the animation was taken straight from interviews we had with mothers and who shared their real-life experiences of breastfeeding,” she explained.
Amadi highlighted the importance of skin-to-skin contact which is a theme of this year’s Celebrating Breastfeeding Week.
“Modern society today has become so busy and sterilised that it’s almost as though we’ve forgotten how vital skin-to-skin contact is and how to do it,” she noted. “As soon as babies are born and placed on their mothers chests, they know instinctively how to breastfeed – everything from mothers’ heartbeats to their smell immediately calms babies and has long-lasting health benefits.”
“As practitioners who are in close contact with mothers and their new babies, this week for us has been a time for reflection and celebration of breastfeeding which we know has proven health benefits,” Amadi added. “We hope that the video can be used by health visitors and community nurses as an educational tool at both antenatal and postnatal visits and for practitioners themselves as a refresher.”
Find out more about the benefits of breastfeeding and the support you can get here.