Giving baby best start

WHILE she’s not saying it’s been a doddle, breastfeeding has been easier than she initially thought for new mum Lissa Fothergill.

Glamour model Jordan has controversially brought breastfeeding back to the debating table after being photographed in a magazine with a branded bottle. Here a North East woman tells of the help and support she’s had in choosing breast over bottle

WHILE she’s not saying it’s been a doddle, breastfeeding has been easier than she initially thought for new mum Lissa Fothergill.

And it got easier day by day, as baby Miles, now 10 months old, and his mum got used to their routine.

So much so, that Lissa, 29, is still breastfeeding her firstborn, and intends to do so until he hits his first birthday.

Lissa, who is married to David, 33, a manufacturing technician, was first introduced to breastfeeding at one of the parenting classes run at the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Gateshead.

“I didn’t know that much about it to be honest,” says Lissa of Gateshead, who returned to her job as a part-time auditor last month.

The classes were extremely positive and after giving birth to Miles, Lissa was given plenty of encouragement to choose breast over bottle from the midwives at the hospital.

“I did find it hard at first,” she admits.

“It was my first baby and it was all a shock to the system, what with the lack of sleep and everything.

“And then if you’re breastfeeding, it’s all down to the mother.

“But once you know what you’re doing, it’s so much easier. Milk from the breast is portable and at the right temperature.

“I honestly don’t think I’d have the patience to make up a bottle, all that sterilising of equipment and things. With breast milk it’s there on tap and gives Miles everything he needs.”

She’s also had plenty of encouragement from her local breastfeeding support group, Bosom Buddies, held at Felling Children’s Centre.

The group is run by Gateshead Primary Care Trust and Gateshead Council.

Lissa found out about the support group from her health visitor and the breastfeeding co-ordinator at the QE.

She continues to attend sessions weekly and finds the support of other women in the same situation invaluable.

The Bosom Buddies breastfeeding baby groups take place in children’s centres across Gateshead, and aim to provide a friendly environment for mums, offering play for the babies as well as information and support for pregnant and breastfeeding mums.

The scheme, set up in 2003, is run by mums who have been through the breastfeeding experience as peer supporters.

They are then available to help encourage and support new breastfeeding mums.

According to the National Childbirth Trust, the beauty of breast milk is that it’s always available.

It’s a living fluid that contains active cells that mop up bacteria and viruses as well as antibodies to fight the infections the baby comes into contact with – these are not contained in artificial substitutes.

It’s also much cheaper than bottle feeding, and is good for the environment, as it doesn’t need processing, packaging, transporting or manufacturing!

Latest figures reveal that the message breast is best is having an impact. Between January and March last year, more than half of mothers giving birth at Queen Elizabeth Hospital had initiated breastfeeding within 48 hours or by discharge. And this is the highest level since collection of this data started.

In 2003-2004, there were around 25% of Gateshead mothers breastfeeding by their six to eight-week check up, and by 2005-2006 this figure had risen to just over 33%.

Lissa says when she was pregnant, she knew six other women who were pregnant at the same time. Of those, three went on to breastfeed, and two still do it.

“I think it’s a culture thing, women choosing bottles over breast,” says Lissa. “But it all seems to be moving in the right direction. My mum breastfed me for a few days but said it was too painful. But there was no support back then.”

For breastfeeding support from Bosom Buddies in Gateshead, call (0191) 433 5616.

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