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With around 2000 babies born across Bradford District during lockdown, it’s hoped that local mums who are breastfeeding will spend just a part of their Yorkshire Day taking part in a world first – the Big Virtual Latch On at 10.15 am on Saturday 1 August, celebrating the start of World Breastfeeding Week.

Led in our area by Bradford Breastfeeding Buddies, the event brings local mums together with others from 120 countries around the globe, all taking part in a world record attempt for the most mums breastfeeding simultaneously.

As well as being a chance for a get together and a bit of fun, the event has a very serious side – raising awareness of the importance of breastfeeding for a baby’s health, especially during the pandemic; and ensuring breastfeeding mums get the help and support they need.

The first breast milk a baby receives is full of antibodies and breastfeeding has many other long-term benefits for a child’s health, including reducing the risk of infections, diarrhoea and vomiting, sudden infant death syndrome and obesity, as well as protecting against cardiovascular disease in adulthood.

Any amount of breast milk has a positive effect, but the longer a mum is able to breastfeed, the longer the protection lasts and the greater the benefits – which is particularly important at the moment.

Bradford District Strategic Breastfeeding Lead Jane Dickens says: “Whilst lockdown is now easing, many new mums have not had the chance to spend as much time getting face-to-face help and advice about breastfeeding from their own mums due to the restrictions, especially if their parents have been shielding.

“That’s meant expert online group and 1-2-1 support by phone or video link from midwives, health visitors and organisations like Bradford Breastfeeding Buddies has proved even more important than usual. They have been able to give invaluable advice, answering ‘how to’ questions, helping with specific problems and guiding people who want to return to work and continue breastfeeding.”

In the run up to the Big Latch On and during World Breastfeeding Week (1-7 August), breastfeeding champions from Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust’s health visiting team and Bradford Breastfeeding Buddies will be sharing their top tips and advice for breastfeeding mums online via the Trust’s facebook and Twitter pages.

And with more and more shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants reopening it is hoped that local businesses will let mums know that they are ‘Breastfeeding Welcome’ or sign up to the scheme, which is run by Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with Bradford Metropolitan District Council.

Breastfeeding Welcome businesses and venues simply use a Breastfeeding Welcome pink and white sticker as a clear message to breastfeeding mums that ‘you are welcome to breastfeed your baby here.’ This means mums can relax and get on with feeding their baby without worrying about what other people think, and it’s an important confidence boost too.

Jane Dickens said: “We’re all in this together. Mums who’ve been in lockdown are enjoying getting out and about again, so let them support your business or venue by telling them you’re happy for them to breastfeed there.”

If you are a business interested in the Breastfeeding Welcome scheme, please contact breastfeedingwelcome@bdct.nhs.uk.

If you are a mum who would like to join the Big Latch On – visit Breastfeeding Buddies facebook page for all the details.