"Breastfeeding support"

About: Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh at Little France / Maternity care

(as the patient),

My baby (born in the ERI Simpson Birth Centre December 2012) took some time to breastfeed effectively. I really wanted to feed him myself, despite the difficulties, and during his first 12 weeks of life we made extensive use of the open breastfeeding clinics at the ERI, Tollcross and Leith Treatment Centre. Karla Napier and her team of specialist midwives deserve a medal for the support and care which they give to new mums. Every clinic I attended had a lengthy queue in place long before the opening time and yet no-one was ever turned away and every single mum and baby were dealt with as though they were the only ones in the room, no matter how long it took.

Most mums I met there agreed that they had never imagined that feeding would be so difficult to establish and it was not unusual for both mother and baby to arrive in tears of frustration and exhaustion. Everyone was dealt with as an individual and in a manner appropriate to their situation. In addition to Karla, who gave me special encouragement and practical help at my lowest point, I was particularly grateful to Nellie and Linda for their warmth, advice and patience.

Given the numbers attending and the emotional state that mothers tend to present in, it is deeply disappointing that the accommodation for the clinic at the ERI is so appalling. The midwives do their very best, but everything about the cramped, windowless and cluttered room could be designed to elevate, rather than lower, a new mother's blood pressure. Whoever is responsible for NHS Lothian's breastfeeding target should visit that clinic in person on a busy Monday morning and see for themselves in the hope that they might influence future decisions about accommodation. It is very unfortunate that a purpose-built room for this clinic was not designed into the new birth centre, which would have been ideal.

Finally, I spent a few days on ward 119 in order to get feeding established. The food available on the ward for new mums was totally inadequate, especially when we were all being told to maintain a high calorie intake to support feeding. If my family had not brought in almost all my food, I would have been very, very hungry. The vast majority of post-natal mums are not invalids and should not be fed as such. Would it not be possible to have bigger portions and in particular a hearty breakfast for mums who have been up feeding or expressing milk all night?

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Response from Stuart Wilson, Director of Communications and Public Affairs, NHS Lothian

Thank you very much for your feedback on your experiences at our breastfeeding clinic at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

We are delighted that you have general found the experience to be good, especially the care given to you.

However, we also welcome the feedback that you have given on the accommodation and catering at the hospital.

All of your comments have been sent to the teams responsible in order to improve the delivery of services we provide.

Good luck and best wishes with your new baby.

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