Mums offer innovative online breastfeeding support

A group of mums based in Harrow, North West London, have launched Blossom Antenatal. Drawing on years of experience working with mums in the NHS, they came together to volunteer their time to offer breastfeeding workshops online through Zoom. 

The aim is to ease the burden on the NHS and support expectant families, as all NHS classes of this kind have been cancelled during the pandemic. As it stands, the NHS cannot do online classes due to GDPR and bureaucratic red-tape. Blossom Antenatal, who already have the backing and support of a number of NHS hospitals and NHS workers, have stepped in to offer a virtual helping hand. Normally, 30% of new mums in hospital ask for breastfeeding classes. 1200 mums have already booked into classes in just over a week.

Classes are filling up fast and there are plans to run them throughout the lockdown.  The reach has been global with the group receiving calls and emails from mums in Australia asking for help.
The group have also had calls from qualified breastfeeding specialists across the UK willing to offer their services. Word has spread quickly through this community of volunteers.
Clare Castell, an NHS Infant Feeding Team/NCT trained teacher with over 15 years’ experience, has set up online interactive live classes with a focus on breastfeeding.  She said:
“Breastfeeding, whilst completely natural is still a skill which needs to be explained to help its success. The UK has one of the lowest rates of breastfeeding and now women are frightened. They want to breastfeed and they need the knowledge and education before they go in to hospital because services are stretched once they arrive. All NHS classes are cancelled. One mum told us she cried when she found our classes. She is expecting twins in the next few weeks.
“It is not easy to obtain formula at the current time and this is worrying mums. We are calling on the government to secure the supply for mums and babies urgently.”
Inundated with requests from mums to be, the first week of classes filled within a day. The coaching session being offered online is live and fully interactive. It is limited to 20 participants to allow for questions.
Clare added “We wanted to help give women reassurance combined with clear, practical advice and do our bit to help take some pressure off the NHS.”
An advocate of the initiative is Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, mother of two, MP for Tooting. She practices in St. George’s Hospital in South West London in addition to her role as a Member of Parliament.  She says, “Maternity services are overwhelmed at the moment and this valuable support is very badly needed. Breastfeeding provides essential immunity for babies, and with the current insecurity of formula supplies, this service from Blossom Antenatal has never been more vital.”
Blossom Antenatal was founded by ClareCastell , Anne Anderton, Siobhan Siddy, Caroline Nagle, Dr Anne Murphy and Olivia Vandyk – and a whole host of other volunteers who are working tirelessly to support our NHS and provide this much needed support.

Clare added, “We have an army of trained and experienced volunteers standing behind us and we are ready to step up and work to help reach all the mums who need us.”
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