Brave New World: parenthood

July 28, 2010

The text below has been written by my lovely friend Jaye Ho, who – like me and many other Haringey parents – is campaigning for better specialist breastfeeding support in the borough.

World peace lies in the hands of first time parents.

 I have now joined the parenthood club. Not only do I understand why people with kids pity those that don’t, and people who don’t have kids pity those who do, but it is life changing in ways I’ve never could have imagined.

 I not only now regularly talk to my neighbours, but have friends in the community. I even chat to strangers on the bus, united by being in the parenthood club. Before giving birth Haringey was just a place where I live, a brisk walk to and from the tube station and the weekly shop. Now it is much more than this – I am part of the community.

Suddenly I care about other mothers and mothers-to-be in my community. Haringey has now only one breastfeeding specialist, which makes me feel anxious for our future babies.

 Haringey had a breastfeeding prevalence of 70.27%, which is the 12th highest in London. Figures for quarter 1 this year show a prevalence of 75.6% which surpasses the NHS target of 66%. But what is not clear is how this data is collated.

 Like all mums I want the best for my child. What’s best for my child? ‘Breast is best’. When the midwife asks me whether I want to breastfeed or use formula, of course I want to do the right thing. Not only is breast the best, but the WHO recommends that mothers breastfeed exclusively for 6 months.

 I can proudly say that I have been breastfeeding my child for 8 months, and that the support groups have been pivotal in my success. But what about the mothers who need help to give the best to their babies? In a world of varied and conflicting parenting advice it is easy for mothers to feel like failures.

I am pleased to hear that a new team of health visitors are being trained by the current breastfeeding specialist to run the support groups, but this does not change the fact that health visitors are generalists working in a role where specialist advice could be the difference between a mother breastfeeding or giving up.

 My first statement of achieving world peace may be bold, but lots of small actions lead to bigger ones. If everyone became more involved with their community as people in the first time parent club are then who knows what we could achieve.

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