Lambeth Infant Feeding Study Day 2023

Angharad Lewis

Angharad Lewis, Public Health Officer, Lambeth Early Action Partnership (LEAP), shares highlights from LEAP’s recent Infant Feeding Study Day. The day, which was attended by over 200 people, was organised in partnership with the Breastfeeding Network and Lambeth Council.

The event was designed to share some of the latest knowledge, evidence, and guidance about infant feeding, as well as offer practical demonstrations. Attendees included families, volunteers, early years and health professionals. Speakers included BBC presenter Dr Chris Van Tulleken, Lactation Consultants Emma Pickett and Kathryn Stagg, and Rachel Bailey, a Lambeth parent.

A powerful personal testimony

Rachel Bailey giving a speech

Breastfeeding advocate and local mother Rachel Bailey took to the stage with her two-year-old daughter to share her very personal experience of breastfeeding after being diagnosed with renal cancer in late pregnancy at the start of the first lockdown in 2020. Rachel spoke movingly on how “breastfeeding is not always easy but it's always worth it”. She shared her personal insights and challenges and spoke of antenatal colostrum harvesting and expressing to have enough breastmilk while she underwent treatment.

She also discussed the practical and psychological value of being able to breastfeed after her cancer diagnosis in pregnancy. She spoke inspiringly of the importance of having the self-belief that she could breastfeed her baby, and of being listened to and supported by health professionals on her breastfeeding journey.

Speakers shared their expert knowledge.

Emma Pickett

Emma Pickett, author, lactation consultant and volunteer with the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers, focused on the challenges faced by parents who breastfeed beyond six months.

She urged infant feeding professionals to consider their own personal triggers and bias when supporting families with extended breastfeeding, saying “just because someone has been breastfeeding for two years, doesn’t mean they have nailed it.”

Emma gave practical insights into extended breastfeeding. She showed different feeding positions that might be more comfortable as babies and toddlers get bigger. She encouraged delegates to reflect on how – as breastfeeding advocates – they can support families to have conversations around extended breastfeeding and deal with unhelpful discourse. She reminded attendees of the importance of supporting parent-led weaning, that it is ok for parents to have boundaries, but that equally no-one should be pressured to stop breastfeeding.

Kathryn Stagg

Lactation consultant and founder of the Breastfeeding Twins and Triplets UK charity, Kathryn Stagg, discussed the unique challenges of breastfeeding multiples. Her talk and personal experience helped increase our understanding of the impact of twin and triplet pregnancies and birth, and how we can help parents navigate the challenges of breastfeeding multiple infants.

Kathryn reminded delegates of the importance of language and positive conversations, as well as ensuring information is evidence-based so parents can make timely and informed decisions. In a breastfeeding support role, often both practical and emotional support can help parents.

Using prop dolls, Kathryn demonstrated different ways of breastfeeding twins or triplets, including a double-cross cradle and stacked feeding, as well as other positions.

Dr. Chris van Tulleken

Dr. Chris van Tulleken is a practicing infectious disease doctor in the NHS and associate professor at University College London. He works closely with UNICEF and the World Health Organization on infant nutrition and has won two BAFTAs for his long-running CBBC series Operation Ouch. Dr Chris gave a thought-provoking presentation on ‘Overdiagnosis and Industry Influence: Public engagement with, by and against the global formula industry’.

He demonstrated the significant conflict of interest between the infant formula industry, their influence in funded research and overdiagnosis of cow’s milk protein allergy (CMPA) in recent years. Dr Chris encouraged delegates to understand and differentiate between how ‘the marketing of formula milk harms all parents and children’, rather than the consumption of formula milk. He reminded delegates that it is possible to be aware of the problems with some of the marketing of formula milk, without undermining or stigmatising parents who use formula.

New guidance

Lambeth Community Joint Clinical Infant Feeding Leads, Tanith Rowles and Laura Hogan, and Breastfeeding Coordinator Zoe Chadderton from Guy’s and St Thomas’ Maternity Services gave a brief update on the new clinical mastitis protocol from the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. They facilitated a Q&A on this subject. The team provided insight on the new recommendations on dealing with everything from oversupply and plugged ducts, to the effect of intrapartum antibiotics on the breast microbiome and increased possibility of mastitis.

Delegate feedback

Feedback confirmed that this was a very useful and informative day.

“All the sessions were engaging, useful information, updates & inspirational.”
“This was a very good study day. It was the opportunity to see and talk about our challenges with colleagues - this doesn't happen often.”
“I thoroughly enjoyed this study day and will recommend it to all professionals involve in infant feeding.”
“Very enjoyable day, hugely grateful and proud to be part of lactation support!”

About A Better Start

A Better Start is a ten-year (2015-2025), £215 million programme set-up by The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK.

Five A Better Start partnerships based in Blackpool, Bradford, Lambeth, Nottingham and Southend are supporting families to give their babies and very young children the best possible start in life. Working with local parents, the A Better Start partnerships are developing and testing ways to improve their children’s diet and nutrition, social and emotional development, and speech, language and communication.

The work of the programme is grounded in scientific evidence and research. A Better Start is place-based and enabling systems change. It aims to improve the way that organisations work together and with families to shift attitudes and spending towards preventing problems that can start in early life. It is one of five major programmes set up by The National Lottery Community Fund to test and learn from new approaches to designing services which aim to make people’s lives healthier and happier

The National Children’s Bureau is coordinating an ambitious programme of shared learning for A Better Start, disseminating the partnerships’ experiences in creating innovative services far and wide, so that others working in early childhood development or place-based systems change can benefit.

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Visit the A Better Start website to find out more.