I had a really positive meeting last week with Liz Edwards, Head of Patient Experience at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. Up until that point I had been working with Liz Grady (everyone at AH is called Liz apparently) who had been responsible for breastfeeding support in the hospital. Liz Grady has generously involved me in the drafting of the hospital’s new breastfeeding policies, and in the drafting of a breastfeeding information booklet for families. It is a testament to how much the hospital values patient feedback that I have been able to really work on all of this with Alder Hey, rather than being brushed aside after my initial complaint.
Liz Grady is now working on new challenges within the hospital, and to whom will fall the responsibility for breastfeeding support is still under discussion. The whole hospital has very recently moved into a magnificent new building, and you can imagine the chaos of transition. But Liz Edwards is not interested in that being an excuse for inaction for much longer. I was delighted to find that she and I agree on many things when it comes to breastfeeding and sick babies. That could of course have something to do with her background in midwifery.
We discussed the curriculum at the university where the majority of Alder Hey’s nurses are trained. We discussed UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative’s new breastfeeding training course for paediatric nurses. We talked about peer support and the different ways that other hospitals support their families. I also mentioned that I had highlighted to the Improving ME maternity review that postnatal experiences are taking place at Alder Hey – it should very much be under the remit of any review of maternity care on Merseyside.
Most excitingly, Liz confirmed that the new breastfeeding booklets for families have been finalised. Breastfeeding mothers at Alder Hey should now start to receive these as a matter of course, and they contain a wealth of information. They include:
- Positioning and attachment
- Feeding cues and signs of a successful feed
- Hand expressing and storage of breast milk
- Use of breast pumps
- Non-nutritive sucking and skin-to-skin
- Care of the breastfeeding mum
- Sources of support, including the National Breastfeeding Helpline
I know that Wendy Jones of the Drugs in Breastmilk Helpline will be particularly pleased to see this information clearly displayed:
Change is happening slowly. Improvements have been made and will continue to be made. I have every hope that 2016 will be the year when Alder Hey’s breastfeeding support catches up with its excellence in clinical care. Because for many children, breastmilk is a part of that care.