I welcome the NCT's public acknowledgement last week that they are there to support ALL mothers whatever feeding decision they make. As reported on our website last week, the charity is calling for empathic listening, skilled guidance and encouragement over a period of months, rather than just for a few days after birth.
This is an important announcement because in the early days of parenting, with emotions riding high, it is also the most vulnerable time for parents to make that decision.
Experts agree that breastfeeding is "best for baby" in terms of enhancing both short and long term health outcomes.
However we also know from face to face chats with many health professionals (midwives as well as health visitors) that they feel frustrated by the difficulties they face in sourcing independent and reliable information on bottle feeding and different types of formulas. This makes it tricky for them to advise the parents who do ask them for advice on all the different feeding options, leaving both parents and health visitors alike dissatisfied by the experience.
The NCT's announcement will hopefully make it easier for parents to seek advice on all feeding options and be supported in whatever feeding decision they make. This may also help to reduce rates of post-natal depression - I have encountered many women who felt stressed and depressed because breastfeeding didn't work out for all manner of reasons (including those receiving good breastfeeding support).
As editor of the Journal of Family Health Care I believe it is more important than ever that we provide evidence-based and independent advice on ALL feeding options so that parents (vis a vis the health professionals) can make an informed decision.
We are also planning in the near future to update and improve our breastfeeding directory.We would welcome your help, news and views, so that together we can provide a good and trusted resource: a one stop shop for health professionals on all aspects of infant feeding.
Penny Hosie, Editor
Journal of Family Health Care