New infant-feeding website to help professionals
Academics at Coventry University have created a new website to help midwives and health visitors support both breastfeeding and bottle-feeding parent.
iFeed aims to fill a gap in the help offered to parents due to children’s centre closures, over-stretched maternity and health visiting services, as well as to ensure parents who bottle feed receive more support.
The creators were inspired to build the website following their own research into infant-feeding and the information parents told them they wanted on the subject.
It is hoped that it will provide a trusted resource for health professionals.
The website is designed to promote breastfeeding without excluding those who do not wish to or cannot breastfeed.
It also features advice and information for people making up bottles of formula or giving expressed milk to their child. This is alongside content to help mothers breastfeed as well as addressing some of the main barriers women come across, such as breastfeeding in public.
There is a strong focus on parent-child bonding and how skin-to-skin contact can help with this.
The content has been reviewed by several infant feeding specialists and lactation consultants and is consistent with Unicef’s Baby Friendly standards.
The academic research used to develop the website has been created with the input of psychologists and included questionnaires and focus groups involving mums and dads, as well as interviews with health professionals and comprehensive reviews of other infant-feeding and child health websites.
The researchers found parents wanted more information about bottle feeding and more content directed to fathers and partners.
Lead on the iFeed project Dr Naomi Bartle said feeding a baby is an emotional experience and sometimes it feels like midwives, health visitors, family and friends are ‘balancing on a tightrope trying to decide what information and support to give new parents’.
‘We know there are many benefits to breastfeeding and the site primarily aims to encourage it. But bottle-feeding is still the norm in the UK and we have to recognise that in the support we offer parents, otherwise we risk alienating those parents and missing opportunities to discuss infant-feeding with them,’ Naomi said.
She added: ‘We feel there’s a real gap in support for parents that recognises there is a bottle-feeding culture and respects that decision by parents. And with overstretched maternity and health visiting services and closures of children’s centres limiting the support that can be offered in this way, we believe this website will be useful to parents.’
The website is available at www.ifeedproject.co.uk
Read the RCM’s latest position statement on infant feeding here.