A Dewsbury mum who struggled to breast-feed has paid tribute to the help she received from staff at the Batley Baby Cafe.
Helen Hartley, 33, went along to the free sessions at Staincliffe and Healey Children’s Centre when her son Oscar was just a week old.
She had considered stopping breast-feeding and was desperately in need of support and advice. Helen is now urging other parents to seek help to persevere rather than switch to bottle feeding.
“I was close to giving up. I found it really hard to breast-feed and then I heard about the café so I decided to come along, I’m so glad I did. Over the course of about six weeks I got lots of advice about how to get Oscar to latch on properly and different ways to feed him.”
Breast-feeding is advised as it helps to boost a child’s immune system, prevents obesity and regulates their appetite.
The café, located on Chestnut Avenue, is run by midwives, health visitors, volunteers and support workers from the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which has increased rates of breast-feeding among local women by 15 per cent in the past five years.
“Breastfeeding gives babies the best nutritional start in life, as well as helping them fight infections, develop close emotional bonds and even beat obesity, which is why we want to help as many mums as we can to do it for as long as they wish,” said infant feeding co-ordinator Sharon Tunnacliffe.
The cafe also acts as a social outlet for new mums to meet friends.
“You meet so many like-minded people. We share our tips and frustrations about everything! I’ve made some lovely friends and I think we’re really lucky to have this help and support on our doorstep,” added Helen, who returns to work in April and hopes to carry on breast-feeding.
Around 1,000 women a year visit the Batley Baby Cafe. Community maternity support worker Fidelma Chapman has helped to run the sessions for four years and has seen the benefits it has brought.
“This café helps people to realise that they aren’t on their own and the community spirit is a key aspect. Years ago we lived in much tighter knit communities so you could pop down the road to see a friend or family member and share your feeding or parenting struggles. Things are different now and I know that this café provides a great support network for the women that come, helping them to breastfeed their babies for longer.”
Research has shown that the social groups most likely to breast-feed are women over 30 who are educated professionals and live in affluent areas, as well as ethnic minority communities. In deprived areas of Yorkshire, breast-feeding rates can be as low as 20 per cent.
All parents are welcome to drop in to Batley Baby Cafe on Thursday mornings from 11am-1pm.