Support services such as breastfeeding classes and midwife visits for new mothers are being cut across England, with experts warning that many woman will be left isolated and with inadequate support.

The Guardian have reported that parenting groups, children’s charities and medical experts are concerned for the health and welfare of mothers and babies. England’s already low breastfeeding rates in particular are expected to fall further as support is axed.

Services that provide social opportunities and mental health support are facing closure, along with children’s centres that make it easier for young families to access essential facilities. The charity 4Children reported that as many as 112 children’s centres will close this year.

Ellie Fielding, who coordinated a home support service for new families in Tamworth, Staffordshire, until funding was withdrawn in March, said: “The beauty of peer support is that we had time to sit with the mums day in and day out; that was our role. This is what sustains breastfeeding.

“The health visitors would try and do their best but with the best will in the world, they couldn’t spend two hours with just one mother. I just feel so sad for the mums.”

Research by the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) has shown that far more women would have felt unable to breastfeed if it wasn’t for the expert support they found in groups such as baby cafes.

Rosemary Dodds, senior policy adviser of NCT, said: “Evidence shows that 80% of mums who stop breastfeeding do so because of a lack of support. As a charity which champions parents’ choice we would like to see mothers getting the assistance they want and need. We would like to see improved services for all parents including those who want to breastfeed but are struggling.”

Michaela Lawrence, a mother of two who started a petition after hearing that community breastfeeding clinics in south London would close in September, said she was “horrified and slightly tearful” when she heard the announcement.

“It had had such a big impact on my life because when you’re trying to feed a new baby, it’s really difficult,” she said. “It really was only because of these highly qualified midwives and the expert advice I received that I was able to breastfeed.”

Although cuts to family services may save money in the short term, experts agree that the long term ramifications are likely to be far more costly.

Source: by Nicola Slawson