With many pregnant women in isolation and lockdown, a group of mums based in Harrow, north west London have come together to volunteer their time to offer free breastfeeding workshops online through Zoom.
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 trained breastfeeding counsellors across the UK willing to help. Word has spread quickly through this community of volunteers.
Clare Castell an NHS Infant Feeding Team/NCT trained teacher with over 15 years’ experiencehas 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.”
Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, mother of two, MP for Tooting, and currently running in the race for Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, practices in St. George’s Hospital in South West London in addition to her role as a Member of Parliament. She wholly supports the initiative.
“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 Clare Castell and her sisters Anne Anderton and Siobhan Siddy four days ago! 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.”
(Featured image: Clare Castell lifelong Harrow Resident and founder of Blossom Antenatal)