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The latest phase of a pioneering initiative by Dorset HealthCare to encourage more women to breastfeed has been showcased at the Houses of Parliament.
The Trust’s Breastfeeding Advisory Team produced a range of posters featuring local mums and their babies, coupled with clever slogans that offer a ‘softer’, more positive message women can relate to.
And the posters are proving extremely popular, with more than 24,300 shares on the Breastfeeding Network’s official Facebook page and related websites in America. Other NHS trusts and health professionals across the UK have also asked to use them.
They’ve been so acclaimed they were also presented to MPs on the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Infant Feeding and Inequalities, which works to improve policies and break down stigma around the issue.
Trust Breastfeeding Advisor Lead Liz Stacey and her colleagues travelled to the capital to talk to the APPG about the project and network with other leading health professionals in the field.
Liz said: “Research has highlighted the need for changing the messaging around breastfeeding as women often say they feel pressured by the ‘breast is best’ approach.
“We want to encourage mums to ‘give it a go’ rather than them feel like it’s ‘all or nothing’, and I think these posters go some way to achieving this.
“All of the mothers featured are local and are pictured breastfeeding their baby in their own home. They also came up with taglines that had personal meaning to them.”
Caroline Blake, from Bournemouth, struggled to breastfeed her son Jack at first, and was told by some health professionals that the chance had probably been missed.
“I felt extremely guilty and a bit of a failure as a mother, but Jack and I persevered and three weeks later we cracked it, but I know many mums in my situation might have given up and continued to feel disheartened.
“I guess I wanted to be involved in this campaign to show that whether you breastfeed for just a day or a week, you haven’t failed – just keep trying. It’s a learning curve for both you and your child.
“Breastfeeding is an amazing thing, and creates a bond between mother and baby, and I think the messaging on the posters helps bridge the gap between reality and expectation.”
Stephanie Saunders, also from Bournemouth, experienced similar problems with her son Jenson, who was born prematurely, and was more than happy to help front the campaign.
“Mothers should feel proud and confident to breastfeed. I felt quite scared to begin with because it was a new experience, and giving birth is daunting enough, but we should never feel pressured.
“The posters are already having a positive impact, and I think the gentle straplines give a real sense of calm and warmth which will appeal to women. Mothers don’t want to be preached at.”
The posters are on display in clinics, GP surgeries, children’s centres and maternity units across Dorset, and build on the Breastfeeding Welcome Scheme the Trust launched a year ago.
This encourages local businesses to sign a certificate of good practice, and display a sticker to show they support mums who wish to breastfeed on their premises.
More than 210 establishments across the county have signed up, including cafes, restaurants, leisure centres and even Poole-based bus company MoreBus.
The full range of posters are available to download for free at https://www.dorsethealthcare.nhs.uk/breastfeeding-posters.