Sunday, November 02, 2008

Mothers clearly don't want breastfeeding advice from the Government

No doubt some people will think I'm a terrible sexist and just don't understand the pressure that woman face, but I was unaware that in February this year the Government launched a "National Breastfeeding Helpline" (Tel: 0844 20 909 20).

It cost £150,000 to set-up, it charges people 8p for the first minute and then 5p for subsequent minutes, and it was apparently put in place to support the statistical estimate of 450,000 breastfeeding mothers in any given year.

How many calls has it taken since February? 23,728. That's approximately 97 calls a day. Assuming that figure remains constant to next February, that will work out at a rough total of 35,500 calls in 12 months. That's about £4 spent by the Government for every call made to the line and the recovery of pennies back for the incoming call charges.

Now, call me a heartless male chauvinist if you must, but that just doesn't seem to me to be a decent investment. Just less than 8% of the supposed breastfeeding mothers in the country rang the line which suggests it's actually not needed. Although I bet the Government would say they just need to spend more advertising it.

33 comments:

Jabba the Cat said...

It does suggest that the majority of women know where to stick the babies mouth. Perhaps the politicians and civil service bright sparks made the common mistake of assuming that everyone else is as stupid as they are?

judith said...

Come, come - somebody needed an initiative to boost their career, somebody else provided the concept to boost their career; whoever rubber-stamped it to boost their career forgot that it might be more sensible to spend that money on allowing mothers to spend more time on the maternity ward being helped over possible problems rather than being shunted out after 12hrs to go it alone.

Believe me, I've been on enough NHS committees in the last 20yrs.

Bless.

Fragglemum said...

As a breastfeeder, I would like to point out it takes more than pushing a baby onto the breast !!! Breastfeeding is very demanding and still many women give up for various reasons but often through lack of support or encouragement. Cluster feeding throws most new mums and is like having an insatiable devil child !!! Many end up thinking there is a problem with their supply, technique etc. This phone line is welcome ESPECIALLY if it is 24 hr (dont forget we feed through the night too !!! Advertising is definately required, why spend money on installing support and not tell the people who would benefit from it !!??

Anonymous said...

Perhaps, like me, many mothers are unaware of this helpline?

And how many people are happy to pay for it, when other organisations provide the advice and support free?

Also, given the amount of conflicting advice the government gives out on an almost daily basis, how much confidence does a new mother have in the advice they are being given?

Anonymous said...

I think the advertising leaves much to be desired. I'm due to give birth in a couple of weeks', my local hospital and midwife team are supposed to be pro-breastfeeding, and yet I didn't know about the helpline!

londrum said...

i had an itchy arm the other day. i wonder if they've got an itchy arm helpline.

Jaypickle said...

Thats 97 wome a day that have been helped to breastfeed. Thats 9 babies a day that have been given the best start in life. Thats 97 seperate calls for help from women who obviously needed the support.
All we ever hear about is whats wrong with kids, and with families, and with modern society. Breastfeeding has been proven to reduce illness in babies and children, breastfeeding saves the NHS money. Breastfed babies have been proven to have higher IQ's, that contributes to the intelligence of society. Breastfeeding promotes and strengthens the maternal child bond, stregthening the family, and helping in the development of well rounded individuals.
Of course there is a lot more too it than that, but perhaps you are not thinking of the big picture here. There are plenty of ways to cut goverment spending, why tearget vulnerable mothers trying to do their best for society?

97 mothers and babies helped per day. I wouldn't hang up the phone on them. Would you?

Anonymous said...

I am sure the Government didn't have in mind financial profit. And I would agree that more advertising is needed. I had never heard of it.

Most mums will ask for help from their HVs or other sources, but having a telephone help line may be very useful for women who are ashamed to ask their HVs, who are in remote locations or who don't have easy access to the internet.

Lots of mums struggle with breastfeeding and the UK has a high level of formula feeding. Anything that changes this is welcome, at least for the babies' sake.

dizzy said...

"Thats 9 babies a day that have been given the best start in life."

Correction, thats 9 babies a day that have been given the best start in life according to current received wisdom.

MoosiePlus said...

When my baby was first born, he fed for an hour and a half every two hours, for 24 hours a day. That gave me half an hour between feeds.

Until I had help, and someone told me how to hold him, how to tuck him under my boob, how to position his mouth, how to make sure he was getting a good latch. The feeds went to 20 minutes every 2 hours, IMMEDIATELY.

Then, 6 months later, when every slightest touch on my boobs was like having powdered glass ground into my nipples; when every time my child wanted to feed, I tried to distract him; when I was in tears of agony, I phoned another helpline. And was given such brilliant help, support and advice that I was able to sort out the issues and am *still* breastfeeding (the World Health Organisation recommends breast milk for babies up to the age of 2, by the way)

But that helpline was staffed by volunteers from their own homes, so I couldn't very well phone at 2am, when I am in floods of tears, and my husband is in despair at his helplessness.

Shame I didn't know about the number, isn't it?

Now I do.

Now it is programmed into my phone.

William said...

It's amazing that all those millions of mums in Africa, India, China, South America etc. seem to manage without helplines. Or even phones, come to that.

Niccolo Machiavelli said...

Who gives the advice? Caroline Flint?

Anonymous said...

Jaypickle has obviously not been breastfed.

The NHS maternity my wife attended had classes for expectant mothers about all aspects of giving birth, breastfeeding included. And we had the visit of a nurse at home. All pretty standard stuff.

If you're going to have a baby, maybe getting prepared beforehand would be a good idea.

Ah, but nowadays, one is so helpless that we need help form all quarters at somebody else's expense. It is a wonder that population in the third world is growing at all, without helplines.

Plus, as Dizzy says, all those facts about breastfeeding are the accepted wisdom nowadays. Funny that there never are any links to actual reports.

Lastly, you assume that all 97 calls are actually about breastfeeding. I very much doubt it.

nick said...

Isn't NHS Direct supposed to provide 24-hour advice on this or any other health-related matter over the phone already?

Jaypickle said...

Dizzy, I meant 97 babies a day that have been given the best start in life. And thats a fact, not just an opinion, it has been proved time and time again, and it's fairly obvious anyway! Do you seriously contend that the artificially modified breastmilk of a different species, dehydrated and then reconstituted with tapwater (and all that contains) is either as good or better, than human breastmilk for a human baby? Seriously?
And for anonymous, Jaypickle was breastfed and has breastfed 2 babies for a total of 2 and half years and still counting. Breastfeeding is a technique and a skill that takes hard work and support to do well. If you either received that as a matter of course or did not need it, then lucky you. It is not the case for many.
Seriously, do you not all think that there are a million different places that could cut money, either within the NHS or in other government spending? Why here? Why take support from vulnerable women who are trying to something worthwhile?

dizzy said...

I will tell you what I seriously contend. I seriously contend that in the last 30 years it has been "breast is best", then it hasn't, then it has, then it hasn't. That's called received wisdom, not truth.

Jaypickle said...

Dizzy, you sound intelligent enough to know that received wisdom and truth can be the same thing! You didn't answer my question anyway.
Do you or do you not think that human breastmilk is the most suitable nutrition for a human baby? It's a simple question.

dizzy said...

"you sound intelligent enough to know that received wisdom and truth can be the same thing!"

By defintion they are not, and it would be highly UNintelligent to say that they are. Received wisdom is not the same truth, and in terms of science, there is no truth only best approximataion at what might be truth.

"You didn't answer my question anyway. Do you or do you not think that human breastmilk is the most suitable nutrition for a human baby? It's a simple question."

Yes I did, I said that that it is received wisdom that it is. I'm just happen to be intelligent enough to know that received wisdom on this specifc subject has changed multiple times over the past few years and thus is subject to change once again. much like putting a baby to sleep on their back is the current received wisdom to prevent cot death whilst a few years ago it was the opposite.

Jaypickle said...

Are you a politician?You seem unable to answer a direct question or give a full and frank opinion!

You are mistaken. Recived wisdom on this subject has not changed many times. A long time ago it was known that breast is best, and in the last 30 years research upon research has supported that contention. No flipping from yes to no has been done. Similarly, about 20 years ago research showed that placing a baby to sleep on their backs was shoen to reduce SIDS occurances. Since then ALL advice has been to place baby on the back, in the feet to foot position. This advice has not been changed in 20 years. Smoking in pregnancy, once accepted as fine, has been shown to be harmful, and now is strongly discouraged.

All of this is called progress, not dubious received wisdom. All of this progress is well supported by scientific research.
If you would like to point me towards a single professional article suggesting that formula feeding is best for babies, from any time in the last 20 years, I would be most grateful.

And you didn't answer my question. I asked for your own personal opinion on whether human breastmilk was the most suitable food for a human infant, not what guidelines or received wisdom supposedly supports.
Do you have your own opinion or are you all about bluster and calculated prevarication?

dizzy said...

"Are you a politician?You seem unable to answer a direct question or give a full and frank opinion! "

I think it's more correctly you that is unabel to see an answer when it is staring you int he face. Current received wisdom is "breast is best", ergo I accept the received wisdom.

You're actual issue here is because I corrected (quite rigthly) your use of the absolute certainty of what is best and proven. You are mistaking cumulative scnetific research as truth, it is not. It is best approximations of truth, ergo it is received wisdom. It is not set in stone, it is subject tio change, as all scientific hypthesises are.

"Do you have your own opinion or are you all about bluster and calculated prevarication?"

I've given you an opinion more than once, the problem we have here is that you don't understand the difference between truth and scientific knoweldge. "Breast is best" is received wisdom based on what is currently known, it is not permanent and absolute. Period.

You should learn to read what is said rather than extrapolating a straw man argument from it about what you think is being said.

Jaypickle said...

You think I don't know the difference between proof and scientific knowledge? Arrogant much? I've read Popper and Hume as well you know (I hope you have read Hume, Popper really won't make much sense if you haven't)

You seem unable to see the difference between scientific knowledge and received wisdom. I never asserted (with absolute certainty) that breast is best is an absolute fact. There is no such thing as absolute fact, anyone with half a brain knows that, even if they haven't studied philosophy. What I asserted was the current, and long term, scientific wisdom is so heavily weighted as to be a very strong body of scientific evidence. Strong enough to be accepted as fact (obviously open to properly supported evidence to the contrary, otherwise there would be nothing scientific about it). I never said that is is permanent and absolute. Gravity theory is not permanent and absolute, but the received wisdom and the scientific knowledge is clear to all. The "fact" that breast is best is both intuitively clear to many and well supported by the best of scientific knowledge. And like I said, if you can point me to any research paper that supports the opposite....

What you were ranting on about was that "received wisdom" that breast is best is dubious and oft-changing. On that matter you are wrong. And when I point out that you are wrong, you attack my logic, and not my arguments.

You should also learn to read what is said. You should also be clear on your terminology is you want to get into a logical argument, as yours on this thread has been confused to say the least.

By the way, you say (in something approaching an actual opinion) "Current received wisdom is that breast is best, ergi I accept the recieved wisdom" Really? Do you always accept the recieved wisdom an any given subject? I prefer to research things and form my own opinions, but thats just me.

dizzy said...

Indeed I have read Hume and Popper

"I never asserted (with absolute certainty) that breast is best is an absolute fact."

You said "97 babies a day that have been given the best start in life. And thats a fact, not just an opinion"

I said "thats 9 babies a day that have been given the best start in life according to current received wisdom."

That's it. You said it was a "fact" it is not a "fact" it a best approximation of what is best based upon what we currently know.

"Strong enough to be accepted as fact (obviously open to properly supported evidence to the contrary, otherwise there would be nothing scientific about it)"

If something is strong enough to be a fact but it has properly supported evidence to the contrary then it isn't a fact at all because it has been disproved. Sorry.

"What you were ranting on about was that "received wisdom" that breast is best is dubious and oft-changing."

It has been changed I;m afraid. Advice in hospitals changes all the time. Breastfeeding has been such in the US and the UK.

And when I point out that you are wrong, you attack my logic, and not my arguments.

You didn;t point out I was w4rong, you asserted I was. Slight different. And you logic is the crux of your argument and it is, by your own admission flawed.

"Do you always accept the recieved wisdom an any given subject?"

This is another strawman. I said on the specifc of breastmilk that I accepted the received wisdom currently but I am also aware that it has changed in the passed and might yet change in the future.

What's more, is breast best for a baby being fed by an HIV Positive mother? Absolutely not.

You should also learn to read what is said. You should also be clear on your terminology is you want to get into a logical argument, as yours on this thread has been confused to say the least.

The only one confused here is you because you seem to think that because I corrected, quite rightly, the inaccurate and flawed statement "breast is best" that it follows that I am adviocating everyone use formula. Thus to say my logic is confusing is a bit of joke when it is you that has taken this off on the tangent from a perfectly valid correction to your "it's a fact" commment.

Anonymous said...

"It has been changed I;m afraid. Advice in hospitals changes all the time. Breastfeeding has been such in the US and the UK."

Complete and utter tosh. As is the rest of your argument.

MoosiePlus said...

William, you said, 'It's amazing that all those millions of mums in Africa, India, China, South America etc. seem to manage without helplines. Or even phones, come to that.'

And you are quite right. There are millions of mums there breastfeeding without helplines. And they are surrounded by breastfeeding mothers, see it all the time, have help *right next to them* if there is a problem. We have lost that here. When I was in hospital after giving birth, i did not see another breastfeeding mother. All those millions of mums you mentioned have far better support than we do. A telephone helpline is far inferior, but at least it is a start.

Anonymous said, "The NHS maternity my wife attended had classes for expectant mothers about all aspects of giving birth, breastfeeding included. And we had the visit of a nurse at home. All pretty standard stuff.

If you're going to have a baby, maybe getting prepared beforehand would be a good idea."


I did. But the dolls they use to demonstrate don't flail around. Or refuse to open their mouth. Or bite. It's like learning to drive from a book - great in theory, but it's a lot different being behind the wheel. Incidently, did your wife breastfeed? And if so, did she find the support she had adequate? I do hope so. I have met far too many women over the last year who have said, "I really wanted to breastfeed, and I tried really hard, but I didn't have any help and I had to give up."

Anonymous said...

"The NHS maternity my wife attended had classes for expectant mothers about all aspects of giving birth, breastfeeding included. And we had the visit of a nurse at home. All pretty standard stuff."

Then you and your wife were very lucky. I was not offered any classes by my local hospital and when I had to stay in for 4 days following the birth of my son, the only midwife who had the time and inclination to provide me with ANY support, was one working a very busy night shift. My Health Visitor was sympathetic, but was no real help as she admitted she had formula fed her children.

It may all be pretty standard stuff, but the REALITY is that it is not easy, each baby is different and will feed differently. My second child fed in a completely different way to my first, and I had to learn whole new techniques, BY MYSELF, as once again, I was provided with little support. The assumption being that because I had fed one chld, I wouldn't need help with the second.

I asked for support from my HV as I felt my daughter was not feeding as well as she should and the advice was to try formula. I was not given ANY information about Breastfeeding helplines, even the voluntary ones, and only found out about them through a fantastic message board (ladies you know the one;-))

I am all for the government providing support, but that support should be provided THROUGHOUT the pregnancy, birth and feeding process. If the correct assistance was given at these stages, then perhaps these 'helplines' wouldn't be needed.

StrawberryTree said...

Dizzy - i am curious as to your answer to the very direct question of whether HUMAN milk is the most suitable source of nutrition for a HUMAN infant....

you have side stepped any answer to this question.

Alexmamma said...

I know there is a wealth of Evidence Medical and Psychological, that Breast is Best- to contradict, question or deny this only goes to show your arrogance on the subject and maybe a need to properly research an issue before you bring it into a public domain for debate, as you rightly sound like an idiot.

Evidence Quote: From UNICEF

If all babies were breastfed, over £35m would be saved by the NHS in England and Wales each year in treating gastroenteritis alone. Adults who were breastfed as babies are less likely to develop risk factors for heart disease such as obesity and high blood pressure. There are benefits for mothers too: women who breastfeed have a lower risk of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer and  hip fractures in later life.

Scientists from the Medical Research Council compared the health of adolescents who were fed breast milk as babies, with those given formulas. The results showed that regardless of the baby’s weight at birth, the faster the growth the greater the risk of heart disease and stroke in adult life.

FF Babies who grew quickly as a result of nutrient enriched diets were more prone to certain health conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Tim Cole, Professor of medical statistics at the UCL Institute of Child Health, explains how breast-feeding prevents obesity.
“Bottle-fed babies have very little control in regulating their food intake. Breast-fed babies have greater control over what they eat, it’s up to them. They grow more slowly than bottle-fed babies in the first year, so they’re less likely to be fat later.”

So for your “waste” of money funding a phone line the NHS has foreseen the potential benefit to them in SAVING money in the short and long term. Funny that really!!! Considering the biggest challenge facing the future of the NHS is going to be the rise in obesity and the problems that can cause such as high blood pressure, heart disease etc etc
And a medical link to Breastfeeding lowering these future potentially costly medical problems you might congratulate the NHS for such forward thinking, budget saving and ultimately tax saving measures

…. However for women to successfully achieve breastfeeding NOT in a 3rd World country requires support, for not only do they face the usual pain and problems of actually feeding but the arrogance and misconception of people or men (like yourself most likely) that breast feeding is wrong in public!! It offends men that breast are a tool to feed a child not for there sexual arousal or pleasure (shame but ultimately true!!) Therefore a support network to ensure the continuation of breast feeing is a public service.

It's amazing that all those millions of mums in Africa, India, China, South America etc. seem to manage without help lines. Or even phones, come to that.

As for other countries - I might point out that what nearly 53.000 Chinese babies got sick from Formula Milk in fact 4 died!!! That those we know about considering there track record of human rights. Then of course there is Africa where women whom don’t have enough to eat for themselves really don’t have much of a choice and considering the life span of small children to compare there breast feeding achievements against those of UK women is particularly poor taste. As for India again the Human Rights track records are appalling in fact only this week was a 13 year old CHILD stoned to death for been raped??? The women in the UK pay into the NHS and as such are entitled to the services it provides for ourselves and our children

I would like to point out a few REAL examples of how the NHS really wastes money

Almost £650,000 has been spent on operations that were never performed. The money was paid by health trusts in Derbyshire to private company Partnership Health Group. The primary care trusts, alongside trusts in Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire, had signed up to a deal with PHG for hip, knee, hand and feet operations worth £13.4m in 2004-5, with the aim of cutting NHS waiting lists. According to new figures released by Nottingham City Primary Care Trust, Derbyshire's trusts agreed to pay £2,689,547 of this but only £2,046,135 of operations were carried out, meaning £643,412 was wasted. In total, just £10.1m of operations were carried out. Under the five-year contract, PHG gets to keep the difference. Doctors' representatives the British Medical Association blamed the waste on the trusts. (Source: Derby Evening Telegraph)

The Kent and Sussex Hospital is spending up to £23,000 a week to ferry patients from ward to ward in private ambulances, because the lifts are BROKEN. Dozens of sick people are wheeled outside into the cold on trolleys then driven 400 YARDS uphill to beds in another wing. NHS bosses are paying up to £100 an hour of taxpayers' money to send dead bodies through the same grim procedure to get to the mortuary. The crisis began when the 15-year-old lifts, which are second hand and are thought to have been bought from Gatwick Airport, broke down. The lifts are crucial because one wing, built in the 1930s and containing the accident and emergency department and mortuary, is on a different level to other wards.

An NHS trust, almost £5million in the red, gave a former director a £243,000 pay-off, after working for them for just three weeks. Dr Iheadi Onwukwe was put on "gardening leave" for three years after a dispute with a senior colleague. Then he was given his golden handshake, which could have paid for 300 cataract operations or given more than 40 patients life-saving heart bypass surgery. The same trust gave hospital chief executive Annette Sergeant a £231,000 pay-off. Ms Sergeant, who was earning £135,000, was slammed in a Healthcare Commission report. After going sick, she negotiated her deal.

WHY?
An NHS hospital is spending £6,000 a week on an illegal immigrant with TB who refuses to be treated. The money is being spent keeping him in a special isolation unit. Air pumped into the room is filtered to reduce the risk of infecting other people. Note, REDUCE the risk not PREVENT. Why? This person is here ILLEGALLY.

I think there are far worse thing to waste money on so stop attacking good women who are trying to make a positive contribution to the UK by rearing healthy children.

CB - Who in fact typed this while breast feeding my son- aren’t I clever for a women from the UK- Ohhh and I used the phone get me now big clap and a bow William please !!!

pinktea said...

'It's amazing that all those millions of mums in Africa, India, China, South America etc. seem to manage without helplines. Or even phones, come to that.'

the fact that infant mortality in western countries is much lower than mortality in developing nations is because we have access to much more support - and in this case, formula milk for mothers who cannot breastfeed their child.

dizzy said...

strawberrytree - I haven't sidestepped it at all because I havn't even said it wasn't the case. If I had said the opposite the question would have relevance but all that has happened is that I said it is not, by necessity, always the case that "breast is best" and I stand by that.

As I already pointed out, for a mother who is HIV+ where the child has managed to not become HIV+ in pregnancy it is most certainly not the best option for that child to be breastfed by its mother because it would put it at a 1 in 7 risk of contracting HIV.

I cannot however state, with certainity, that "HUMAN milk is the most suitable source of nutrition for a HUMAN infant" because it might not be. All I can say, is that according to received wisdom which exists as a result of scientific enquiry and falsification testing that it is considered to be the most suitable.

However that does not mean it will always be the case which is all I have ever said. I have not at any point said that formula is better, although I have alluded to the histroical fact that there have been times when it was considered to be as good as and in some cases better, especially in late 20s America and it led to almost half the population of babies being bottle-fed not breastfed as a result of, you guessed it, received wisdom.

Yes, it is correct that modern and contemporary research has questioned the varcity of those claims and disproved, through testing, those hypothese. It does not though follow that "breast is best". At best all one can say is "breast is consdiered currently to be best". It may yet be found that there is something even better.

The argument I am making, and this is directed at the anonymous comment who says the argument is tosh, is not that breast milk is not the most suitable. It is that it is wrong to state that it is the most suitable. Now one might call that pedantry on might part, but I call it making an accurate statements rather than screaming the word "scientific" as if that alone makes something authoritative and a matter of truth.

I must say though I am quite amused how the subject of breastfeeding is creates such invective kneejerk responses. I remember when I posted and pointed out, quite rightly, that there was no need for a law enshrining the right to breastfeed in public because it isn't illegal anyway and a private establishment can have whatever rules it like anyway and it caused a right storm.

dizzy said...

Ahhhh now I know why this has caused a storm.

dizzy said...

Ladies, just so you know, I have registered in your forum but the moderation at the BBC takes a while. I just posted saying that if one of you would lik to email me I will give a tenner to a charity of your choice via Just Giving because you have generated me ad revenue pennies by linking to this post and viewing it.

dizzy said...

Obviously that tenner promise is to the first one of you that emails me. Not all of you.

dizzy said...

pinktea wins. Ten pounds plus Gift Aid has been donated to the The Foundation for the Study of Infant Death.