Blackpool Dad’s impassioned plea

Video here from local new Dad Andy, click to go to the video on his FB page

Andy’s new baby was born just one week ago, and his wife has found the support of the Star Buddies invaluable. They are asking you to sign the petition and make your voice heard if you, like them, feel that this service must be saved.

Current Blackpool Breastfeeding Support Groups

In recent times the focus of the Star Buddies commissioned service has been one-to-one mum-to-mum support via text, phone and home visits, as well as antenatal work in clinics and workshops, so there are fewer breastfeeding groups than there were a few years ago.

These are the breastfeeding groups run by the Blackpool Star Buddies
(correct at April 2017).

St Cuthbert’s and Palatine Children’s Centre, Lightwood Avenue, FY4 2AU
Wednesday 11am – 12.30pm

Claremont Children’s Centre, Westminster Road,
Thursday 11am-12.30pm

You can contact the Star Buddies until 30th June on 07549 996862

Mothers’ thoughts on the Star Buddies Service

Mothers’ Voices

‘I had my son last week and wanted to breastfeed. I struggled a lot in the hospital but had a visit from a star buddy who gave lots of great advice. After I was finally discharged, I really struggled and was in tears! A star buddy came to my house within an hour and made me feel so much better and more confident. This service needs to carry on as I would have given up by now if it wasn’t for them’

I really don’t understand where the support will come from if this service disappears? Midwives and Health Visitors are stretched enough as it is and would need extra training to fulfill this requirement.
My twins and I had a 2 week stay in Blackpool Children’s Ward after 14 weeks in NICU at Preston. Star Buddies were great at coming to see me and my girls to check our breastfeeding, as I was panicking after leaving NICU and having 24/7 support there. We are still breastfeeding at 13.5 months!’

‘Couldn’t have carried on breastfeeding without star buddies. Very very friendly no pressure just support on what’s best for you and baby. Can’t believe this service is being cut in such a well needed area!’

‘Fed all my three and still feeding number 3 at 2yrs. They’re too quick to tell you to formulae feed at the vic awful for mums wanting to feed and given no support’

‘I was called daily after my two children and given support. An essential lifeline to supplement the busy midwives before the health visitors take over.’

‘They provided me with excellent support just before and the weeks after my little boy was born. Without this service new mums will not receive the same level of support that is so desperately needed in order to support and encourage breast feeding. To get rid of this service would be a travesty’

‘If it wouldn’t of been for this service and my star buddy I wouldn’t still be feeding my lg! This is an amazing service and very helpful in giving mums a chance to breast feed their babies the most natural thing in the world’

‘This is horrendous, the support in hospital is shocking at the minute with these new blood sugar tests. We need more star buddies in Blackpool not less! I went in and had my second, had no problems breastfeeding first time round, because of the bloody blood sugar levels they were trying to push the bottle, she just wasn’t hungry, i had to really stand my ground, at the hospital they even spoke to my fiancé when I was in the toilet trying to get him to persuade me!!! The breast feeding buddies are just more of a support and a back up’

‘This service is invaluable to new Mums and their babies. Without Star Buddies there will be lots of stressed and upset mothers and newborns.’

‘This is an extremely important issue. Breast milk gives babies the best start in life and will reduce future healthcare costs due to the benefits the baby gets from breastfeeding’

‘ this service is needed by so many mums they helped me so much its untrue!’

‘I am so sad to hear about this. This is such a vital service. I have managed to breastfeed 2 of my babies with the help and support from the star buddies. They gave me so much advice, support and a listening ear. They were there when I hurt the most and I had no idea what I was doing. Thanks to them, I had the confidence to go out in public, knowing I was doing the best for my baby. ‘

‘when I was struggling to breastfeed my little girl in hospital the Star buddies were AMAZING and I couldn’t of done it without them !!!’

My starbuddy helped with loads of baby advice when my daughter was born and it wasn’t limited to feeding. They are an amazing service and new mum’s need them xx’

‘Vital service especially for mums like me who delivered prematurely. Breast feeding is a whole different ball game when you have to express and try and keep your supply tgere for weeks on end till baby is ready to feed. Star buddies where ace for me x’

‘Star buddies came to teach me how to colect and store colostrum in advance of babies being born. Without their support and advice I wouldn’t of been able to store my milk in the fridges in the nicu in advance of my twins prem birth.’

‘It breaks my heart that mothers and their babies in the future will suffer as a result of this service bring cut.’

‘this service has been there for me and my 1 week old baby as I have struggled with breast feeding. they have been really supportive and guided me through the whole time offering to come out and see me. I think there a really helpful service’

‘This has made me sad! They were amazing when I had my little boy- one day i was so stressed because I couldn’t feed him and within 5 minutes of me being on the phone a star buddy came round to help me! Please don’t stop this service, even though I no longer breastfeed I certainly wouldn’t of even been able to do as long as I did without their help!’

‘I am a grandmother past the days of having babies, but to loose this resource is not a good move at all ,the support these mums need with the staff and other mums , cannot be replaced . if you want happy contented babies , also happy and contented mums keep it open’

‘It’s terrible, I would have given up after a week without my star buddy, I ended up bf til my daughter weaned herself off at 2 1/2’

That’s absolutely awful of found star buddies helpful myself as do many other new mums looking to breastfeed I’m shocked and disgusted at blackpool council’

‘The star buddies are amazing. Without there support showing proper latching technique I wouldn’t be able to have breast fed my first, second or third daughter till they was one. We all need a help in the right direction and so many would fail without this amazing service. I was at the lowest of my low on the ward when the doctor was saying to bottle feed as my daughter hadn’t eaten enough, but sure enough a Star Buddy sat with me helping get milk into a cup for a few hours to help me not put my daughter on the bottle. This service is priceless helping mum’s and young mum’s like me  – 16 with my first  – see that breastfeeding is best, and the support: I wouldn’t of done it without them thank you star buddies – really hope they think twice before cutting it’

‘This service has been invaluable to me and seen me through multiple problems with myself and my baby which affected my ability to breastfeed her and helped me to persevere when everyone (bar my wonderful husband) from doctors to family members thought I should give up. It was a physically painful, lonely time and they helped me to see that I was allowed to want to continue breastfeeding and that it was ok that it wasn’t all plain sailing because it would get better. It is thanks to this amazing service that, at almost 5 months old, with two teeth, my baby is combination feeding and still getting about 50% of her feeds from me rather than from a bottle. Health visitors are already overworked, that is why activities such as baby massage are being scrapped. Blackpool health visitors are currently temporarily protected from many of the cuts facing the rest of the country but after that, they will have even less time than they currently do. It is already impossible for them to replace the work that Star Buddies do, so how can they possibly be expected to do this further down the line with significantly less time than they have now? This is one of those things where, unless you have used the service yourself, you don’t realise its true value. The Star Buddies are irreplaceable and I am appalled that this essential support for new mums is being withdrawn from Blackpool when, really, it should be rolled out country-wide.’

‘Definitely believe that I breastfed for eight weeks as I had the support, feel I definitely had a good service’

‘Without Star Buddies I would have felt so alone in it … Don’t know if I would have given up sooner as I really struggled in first two weeks’

I wouldn’t or couldn’t have breastfed for this long without you ringing me’ 

‘If they (Star Buddies) weren’t there I would have given up.  Bleeding three times in 10 days, I would have given up, but having them there knowing that they are there to support us, it has made it so much easier and for me to be able to carry on’ .

‘Star Buddy has been fantastic and really helped me through.  Couldn’t have done it without X (Star Buddy)’

Without you ringing and coming round, I knew she would have stopped.  Now she’s determined to feed her, which is what she wants to do’ (Anecdotal feedback from grandmother).

‘The Star Buddies service at Blackpool Victoria Hospital is a shining beacon of good practice. For this to be lost for Blackpool is putting services for women and children back to the dark ages. I have given birth at Blackpool Victoria before Star Buddies the difference this time round for my breastfeeding experience was first class. Health Visitors are not breast feeding experts.’

‘I personally have benefitted from their support and know others who have. I think it is vital in those first few days to have that support and don’t think it’s fair to leave it just for health visitors to do especially given the delay in health visitors seeing new mums and considering the pressure the health service staff are already under.’

‘I had the support of Star Buddies with both my boys. From the initial contact in the hospital to having a lovely Star Buddy visit us at home. And then with the ongoing breastfeeding support groups, I felt so supported with breastfeeding.
With my eldest it was my Star Buddy recognised my son has a tongue tie and got us referred so that he could have it snipped.
Even after the initial 6 weeks of home visits I was still able to speak to my Star Buddy if I had and issues.
I also used the breast feeding support groups with both of my boys. Met some fantastic ladies and felt so supported by the Star Buddies running the groups. They helped us to build confidence for feeding in public, helped us with positioning and attachment – which Health Visitors don’t really know about
To end this service is such an injustice to all mummies and mummies to be.
Please Blackpool council – reverse your decision and renew the Star Buddy’s breastfeeding support service.’

‘The Starbuddies helped me when I was struggling to feed my daughter, without their help I definitely would of given up. I ended up feeding her for 10 months and it’s all down to their help and encouragement. Blackpool is low on breastfeeding mothers and it will be even less without this help.’

This was a huge help to me with my first and second child. Was such an emotional time couldn’t have got trough it without their help.’

‘The Blackpool star buddies have helped me breast feed my 2 youngest children. Without the help of the star buddies I would not have managed to feed my babies. I had a bad experience trying to breastfeed my 1st child as at the time there wasn’t the help that there is now and I ended up giving up. I was determined to use the help available 2nd time around and the I’m so glad star buddies were able to help me. I had many phone calls with them and quite simply few home visits too. When my son was 10 days old I ended up hospitalised with mastitis and the doctors were telling me to stop breastfeeding. The star buddies visited me multiple times a day in hospital helping me carry on feeding and also helping me clear the mastitis. This was a horrible time for me and I couldn’t have got through this without their help.
I have also used their help with my daughter last year. Both children have milk and soya allergies which I have managed by cutting items from my diet. If I had not had the support to enable me to successfully breastfeed my children then this would have cost the NHS as they would have had to have special prescription formula.
Please reconsider this cut in service as it is very valuable to mums at a very difficult time. Without this help many mum’s like myself would not be able to successfully breastfeed their babies. As well as possible health issues for the babies this will have an impact on the mothers mental health and on the bond between mother and baby.’

‘Loosing breastfeeding support in Blackpool is a travesty. The area is already very deprived and taking away this valuable and much needed support will be devastating to so many families and more importantly babies!’

‘Star buddies is an amazing service supporting many women to breastfeed their babies, without this service the number of breastfeeding mummies is likely to decrease. Health visitors are extremely busy and are not as easily avalaible to offer the support’

‘I agree that without this vital support , many women would give up. The first few days are vital. After 6 weeks it’s all worth it. The health benefits are unbelievable. We are the lowest breastfeeding country and this needs to change. …..will save the NHS in the long run!’

‘This service is essential, and also pays for itself with the long term health and development benefits that breastfeeding provides. Cutting star buddies is short sighted and irresponsible. It is the babies that will suffer most.’

‘this service was absolutely vital for me and several mums I know. Without it i would have given up breastfeeding. This is a vital service that Blackpool … mums badly need!’

‘This service helped me through my “low points” after pregnancy my son would literally feed for 45 (minutes) on each breast and I would feed on demand. I felt drained and like I couldn’t / didn’t want to continue. I rang star budies one Sunday evening and their support worker was round within half an hour giving me encouragement support and tips to help. She didn’t judge when I sat and cried for 10 minutes unable to speak. This service is priceless to mums who are going through the same breast feeding is still a taboo subject and let’s face facts is still not accepted by society! Please don’t take away this valuable service’

‘My breastfeeding journey wouldn’t have been the same without them! I had a star buddy after my first baby and after several infections in 3 months and wrong diagnosis from the doctors my star buddy went above and beyond and was the one who found me the treatment I needed which meant another 20 months of amazing, painless breastfeeding. Blackpool needs this amazing service!’

‘Because I’m currently breastfeeding my nearly 6 month old and couldn’t have done so without the support I recieved at the hospital and from my breastfeeding buddy afterwards! If anything more needs to be done to promote and educate people about the benefits of breastfeedig.’

‘I have just started a role in a breastfeeding peer support service in Hackney, set up because it was identified that health visitors were unable to intervene and support in breastfeeding issues early enough.’

‘The star buddies helped me hugely whilst I was in hospital – and when I left. Midwife’s were great but they didn’t have the experience, time and/or expertise to help and reassure me in those early hours and days. I wouldn’t have fed my first daughter without their support. My health visitor would not have been able to provide me with the level of … support I needed.’

 

Save the Star Buddies!

          
For the last 10 years, new families in Blackpool have benefited from a fantastic local breastfeeding peer support service. These peer supporters –breastfeeding mums themselves – have provided information and support with breastfeeding to pregnant women, to new mothers in the hospital after birth, and via phone, groups and home visits and for up to 8 weeks and beyond, as part of the commissioned service.

Infant feeding coordinators have also made sure that the service is fully integrated into the health service, and they have trained Health Visitors and Children’s Centre staff in the community, leading to a Unicef Baby Friendly Initiative award first in October 2011 and then re-accreditation in April 2014. The integrated service has also been recognised as “outstanding” by the Care Quality Commission and been used as an example of good practice by NICE Guidance.  The service has helped to bring about a shift in attitudes towards breastfeeding in the local area, and since it began there has been a 50% increase in the number of babies who are breastfeeding at 6-8 weeks.

Now all this is about to be lost – Blackpool Council have decided that the service will end on 30 June 2017. 

There will be no commissioned peer supporters from this time, no one to supervise or co-ordinate any volunteers, and the community infant feeding co-ordinator role is also to be terminated. 

The council say that health visitors can provide the same level of support to mothers, but this will be impossible. Aside from the antenatal visit between 28 and 36 weeks, Health Visitors only see mums from 10 days after birth – by which time many will have given up on breastfeeding without the valuable help they would have got in hospital and at home from the breastfeeding peer supporters.

Breastfeeding rates – already low in Blackpool – are bound to fall, leading to increased costs for the local NHS services as more babies visit doctors and hospitals.

We are asking Blackpool Council to reverse the decision to end this amazing peer support service, which has helped thousands of local mums.

CLICK HERE to sign the petition and add your voice.

CLICK HERE for the Facebook Group

CLICK HERE for more information.