Staff at Cambridge’s Rosie Maternity Hospital are to harness the power of social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to highlight the importance of breastfeeding.
A team of 16 midwives and maternity support workers will mark World Breastfeeding Week by posting “brelfies” – pictures of them breastfeeding when they had their own children. The brelfies – a play on the word selfies – were published on 1 August and will continue until 7 August to show how breast milk provides all nutritional needs for babies’ wellbeing.
In the Rosie more than 80% of mothers breastfeed, and women and their families receive a range of support, advice and encouragement to help them to feed their babies in the way they would like to.
Infant feeding specialist midwife, Lesley Bennett, says that the World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and that there are benefits for both mother and baby to continue for two years and beyond.
Studies show breast milk has many health benefits, including a reduction in sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), childhood leukaemia, diarrhoea and vomiting, obesity, and cardiovascular disease in adulthood.
For mothers it can reduce the chances of breast and ovarian cancers, weak bones, obesity and cardiovascular disease. Additional benefits include:
- It is perfectly designed for babies
- It is available whenever babies need it
- Any amount has a positive effect
- The longer mothers breastfeed, the longer the protection and benefits
- It protects babies from infections and diseases
- It builds a strong emotional bond between mothers and babies
- It is better than formula.
Lesley said: “I sent an email to my colleagues with the idea to mark this week by sharing photos of themselves breastfeeding on social media to raise awareness how breastfeeding meets all the nutritional needs of a baby. I was amazed by the response – my email inbox went berserk!
“Learning how to breastfeed takes time and requires support. The benefits of breastfeeding are huge and my colleagues in the Rosie were keen to raise awareness by showing how they too had their own stories and photos to share.”