Cuts to Exmouth Bosom Buddies breastfeeding group risks health of new mums and babies, say campaigners

PUBLISHED: 17:05 09 February 2018

Mums and babies at Exmouth breastfeeding support group 'Bosom Buddies', in 2014. Left to right, back to front: Joanne Hollywood-Tucker, Lucy Morris, Ola White, Becky Dyball, Laura Maker and Bernie Rhodes. Picture by Laura Maker.

Mums and babies at Exmouth breastfeeding support group 'Bosom Buddies', in 2014. Left to right, back to front: Joanne Hollywood-Tucker, Lucy Morris, Ola White, Becky Dyball, Laura Maker and Bernie Rhodes. Picture by Laura Maker.

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"We are trying to save an important group for local new mums - especially breast feeding mums. Many, many mums find breast feeding difficult and anything that is there to support them on their journey is really important for their physical and mental health. Despite people saying it is the most natural thing, it is actually really hard," said Amy Martin, of the Save Exmouth Bosom Buddies campaign group.

Cuts in funding to an Exmouth breastfeeding support group will put the health of new mums and babies at risk, say campaigners.

Earlier this month Amy Martin, and a group of other mums from Exmouth launched the Facebook page and online petition ‘Save Exmouth Bosom Buddies’, which has gained more than 380 signatures.

The action followed news on the Exmouth & District Children’s Centres Facebook page that funding was being withdrawn for the breastfeeding support service, making it ‘community led’.

Amy said: “We are trying to save an important group for local new mums – especially breast feeding mums.

“Many, many mums find breast feeding difficult and anything that is there to support them on their journey is really important for their physical and mental health.

“Despite people saying it is the most natural thing, it is actually really hard. I have got friends who weren’t able to and it really affected them.”

The petition calls on the council and Government to ‘ensure all mothers have access to good quality, timely breastfeeding support’ and ‘provide funds so local groups can deliver these valued services’.

Amy explained why she believes the decision to reduce spending on breastfeeding support is ‘short sighted’.

“It costs the NHS more money when you are not able to breast feed. It lowers cancer rates and lowers infection rates, and there are other health benefits. They are cutting in one place but it will cost them more in another.

“We understand about austerity – it’s good that they want to keep it going, but is not sustainable without a paid-for person,” she said.

And testimonials on the campaign’s petition webpage echo Amy’s concerns.

One person wrote: “I will forever be indebted to Bosom Buddies, as I’m sure so many other women are, for keeping me from the clutches of serious post natal depression.

“My Heart aches for all the women who will be affected by this.”

Another described the group as ‘a lifeline’, which helped her successfully breastfeed her three sons and make ‘amazing friends’.

DCC responded by saying although it could no longer deliver ‘all the popular universal services’, including breastfeeding support groups, this did not mean it thought they were unimportant.

A council spokesman said: “While there’s demand for a service like Bosom Buddies, and while there’s energy in the local community to see it continue, we’re very confident that it will.”

The council said Action for Children would be working with local groups like Bosom Buddies to help them become ‘self-reliant’.

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