Covid breastfeeding support
“The success of the revised model was based to a large degree on established and very strong partnerships between acute and community services, and the additional value of the voluntary sector.”
Laura Griffin, Commissioning Lead, Early Years and Parenting, Lambeth Council, reflects on how things have changed for the infant feeding service during the pandemic
Infant feeding support in Lambeth is usually delivered through hospital breastfeeding teams, and in the community through group support services delivered by the Breastfeeding Network, the Health Visiting service; and Specialist Infant Feeding Midwives. LEAP families can also access one to one peer support ante and postnatally.
As part of wider changes to midwifery services, two of the maternity hubs set up in Lambeth became hubs for infant feeding support delivered by the hospital breastfeeding teams, the Specialist Infant Feeding Midwives, and the Community Infant Feeding Coordinator from Evelina London. This enabled women with immediate support needs around feeding their baby to be seen on an individual, face to face basis within the community.
The Breastfeeding Network Peer Support Service moved to an online and phone support delivery model. Virtual breastfeeding groups were held daily, and women were invited to join them for feeding and peer support. One to one support was provided virtually where needed.
The revised delivery model allowed for continuity of care during the pandemic, and at a time when the established delivery model was not viable.
Demand for the service and the need for support was reflected in high numbers of women living out of borough seeking breastfeeding support when services in their own local area had been suspended. These women were signposted back to their own health visitor or community midwife where appropriate, and some were provided with virtual support to meet an immediate need
All services will build on the learning and success of the support provided to women during this period, and there may be some changes to delivery models as a result. Some support will continue to be offered virtually and online as well as in group settings, and there may be a closer alignment of support provided by the hospital breastfeeding team and the specialist infant feeding midwives.
What did people think?
Mum: “This daily group is such a fantastic resource and I am so relieved to have been connected with it.”
Mum: “TIt's very reassuring to know you are there to help with any breastfeeding issues new mums face.”
Mum: “I attended the group this morning and found it really helpful. Not only asking about my problem but hearing other mums and the advice they were given. This is my first baby and a subject I knew nothing about until a few weeks ago. I really appreciate your help and the service you are running. Thank you!!”
Health Visitor: “You guys are running a great service I get a lot of positive feedback from my clients."