Hove mum fights for under-threat breastfeeding support services

Kim Walker and her son, Freddy Fuller.
Kim Walker and her son, Freddy Fuller.

A mother who started a petition opposing cuts to breastfeeding support has vowed to fight on after hearing the support worker for parts of Hove will be axed.

Kim Walker, 27, said some mothers in North Portslade and Hangleton may resort to online forums for advice or give up breastfeeding when they are left without a support worker after next week.

Supported by campaigning group Sussex Save the NHS, Mrs Walker plans to bring the petition before the council next month.

She said breastfeeding support worker Donna provided vital support for new mums.

“As a new mum I wasn’t really sure what I was doing,” she said. “I went to breastfeeding groups, I asked midwives for help but I really struggled.

“My partner was so worried about me the third week after I’d given birth. He thought I was starting to get depressed and he was going to ask me to stop breastfeeding because he could see how upset I was getting.

“I was trying so hard and getting nowhere. And then the week I met Donna, she actually looked in my son’s mouth which no-one had done before and she said, ‘your son’s got thrush, that’s why he’s not latching on’.

“Then we were able to go to the doctor and solve the problem.

“Every obstacle I had over the past year, I can tell you there were a lot, she taught me how to overcome.

“Without her, I wouldn’t have got as far as I am now and I know for a fact, from meeting so many mums over the last few weeks, everyone feels the same.”

Mrs Walker started the petition, which has more than 460 signatures, seven weeks ago out of concern that planned NHS cuts could leave mothers in the area without proper breastfeeding support.

Sussex Defend the NHS spokesperson, Janet Sang, said: “It is terrible that new mums in a socially-disadvantaged area of the city will lose their support services.”

Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust said Donna’s redeployment is part of a plan to improve breastfeeding access across Brighton and Hove.

They said: “For many years some parts of the City have had lower outcomes than others and we want to ensure our service can target the areas that need most support.”

However, Mrs Sang said women using the service have not been consulted about any changes.

She said: “There will not be a dedicated specialist breastfeeding support worker in North Portslade and Hangleton in the way there is now.

“That particular support that Kim Walker is talking about isn’t going to be there.

“If they’re cutting a million pounds from the children’s services per year then there will be posts that are lost – and this is obviously one of them.”

The petition can be accessed at: www.ipetitions.com/petition/please-help-protect-our-breastfeeding-support