Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, which runs the Royal Preston and Chorley and South Ribble hospitals, is celebrating 25 years of supporting mums to breastfeed.
AASMA DAY talks to one Lancashire mum who midwives have supported in her quest to successfully breastfeed all five of her children.
SNUGGLING up to her babies and enjoying the special closeness and bonding that arises through breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world for Esther Maddock.
Esther, 36, who is married to Carl, with whom she has five children, has breastfed them all – and is currently still breastfeeding her 10-month-old twins Joel and Charis.
And she says she owes her breastfeeding success to specialist midwives at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals who have supported her in fulfilling her aim.
Esther, who lives in Longridge, near Preston, has children Joy, eight, Beth, six, Noah, four and twins Joel and Charis, says she always knew she wanted to breastfeed and, in her mind, it was the natural and only option.
Esther explains: “I just felt it was the natural thing to do.
“I love the closeness and snuggly part of breastfeeding as it makes you feel really close to your baby and really helps with bonding.
“Knowing all the health benefits of breast milk made me determined to feed my children. Breast milk is like magic – it protects your children against so many conditions and has so many health benefits and increases your child’s immunity.”
After having her first child Joy, Esther suffered from severe postnatal depression and says that breastfeeding her really helped combat her depression.
She recalls: “The doctor realised that breastfeeding Joy was really helping with my postnatal depression.
“I would sit and feel her and had the feeling of my baby being close to me and I knew I was actively doing something to sustain and comfort her.”
Esther breastfed Joy until she was 18 months old and, when Beth was born, she fed her for 14 months.
Esther says: “Beth had a lot of health problems as she had a kidney disorder, which she had to have surgery for. She also has asthma and is lactose intolerant. I am really glad that I breastfed her as I am sure her health problems would have been a lot worse if I hadn’t.”
When Esther gave birth to son Noah, breastfeeding him was again the natural choice and she fed him until the age of one. Esther admits that breastfeeding wasn’t easy with any of her children but, thanks to the support and advice she received from specialist midwives, she managed to persevere and combat any problems.
She says: “It has been very difficult to establish the feeding with all of my children and it has never been easy. But the support I have had from the midwives at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals has been absolutely amazing and their expertise and advice has been brilliant. I feel that, with breastfeeding, a lot of people just give up when they start experiencing problems and I know I could not have managed breastfeeding for as long as I did without the specialist support I received.”
Even though Esther’s husband and family have been very supportive, when she became pregnant with her twins, they urged her not to beat herself up if she was unable to establish or sustain breastfeeding two babies.
However, Esther was determined to breastfeed her twins just as she did her other three children. She explains: “I did not want to have breastfed three of my children but not the other two. I would have been devastated and felt guilty if I didn’t breastfeed my twins.
“It was really hard work, especially at first, but again, the midwives were really supportive and helped me achieve my goal. Charis was not putting on weight when she was little and was actually losing it as she was not getting her breastfeeding technique right. She actually had to be re-admitted to hospital when she was only a few weeks old. But with the support I received from the breastfeeding specialist, I persevered and Charis got the hang of feeding. Both twins are doing really well now and thriving and I am hoping to carry on breastfeeding them until they are 18-months-old. Breastfeeding is such a special experience and I love the way your baby looks at you when you are giving them something only you can give. Breastfeeding is something I feel very passionate about and I feel that more women could do it with the right support.
“As well as the support from the specialists, my husband Carl is extremely supportive and is a massive fan of breast-feeding and its benefits. When you look back, it is such a short space of time in your life but the benefits for your child are huge.”
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is celebrating 25 years of supporting breastfeeding – longer than any other trust in Lancashire. Susan Burt, infant specialist midwife at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, says: “We are delighted to be celebrating 25 years of supporting breastfeeding. Attitudes towards breastfeeding have changed substantially over the last 25 years and we have since developed a trust policy that provides guidance to staff but recognises the individuality of each mother and baby.
“We have seen an increase in the number of mums choosing to breastfeed and we think that is down to more support and encouragement and also a greater acceptance of breastfeeding in the wider community. It is a delight to see how well Esther is doing and how breastfeeding has worked for her. Each mum and baby is individual and we give support and advice to help them find their own way.”