Well that’s just charming! – Breast feeding charms. Liverpool Women’s Hospital

Name: Fauzia Paize

Position: Consultant Neonatologist

Which NICU are you based in? Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust

Name of project: Well that’s just charming! – Breast feeding charms

Tell us about your project…

Choosing to breastfeed your child, for any woman, takes determination and a quality support system. So often women hit hurdles and find that breastfeeding is causing more stress than bonding and more pain than pleasure; and consequently stop. 

For babies born prematurely breast milk is not a food or nutrition, it is medicine packed full of vital components to help their immune system and fight infections which can kill premature babies . Breastmilk is easier to digest than formula milk, babies who receive breastmilk alone go home earlier than those who have had formula milk.  The longer a baby received exclusively their mothers breast milk the longer this protection is offered so an attempt to lengthen the time that women are producing milk for their babies would have a direct impact on this.

Expressing milk for your preterm or sick baby on the unit is a very cold and clinical task, often taking place in a very clinical ‘expressing room’.  You are attached to a breast pump and a piece of plastic sucks the milk from your breast.  Other women share the milk room much like a changing room in a gym.  You are not near your baby most of the time and then you give that milk to a nurse and often someone else, other than you, will give the milk to your baby.  It is a cold and pretty thankless task.  Anything to improve this was bound to be a hit!

The reward system for each week of milk expression consisted of a jewellery Tibetan charm being awarded. (see photo).  There was initially a demand for back payment of the charms for each week women had expressed breast milk in the time that they had already been there!

How do you feel this benefits parent mental health?

This project has shown the powerful nature of engaging the emotional aspect in families with babies receiving neonatal care.  Patients at the Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust receive outstanding clinical care. Less consistent attention is sometimes paid to the non-clinical issues and how they can affect a family’s journey through their health care experience. Thinking of the psychological and supportive needs of all patients is vital so that all patients receive holistic care. The receiving of a reward system dedicated to reminding them what an amazing job they are doing for their baby contributes to this.  This view on holistic, emotionally supportive care should be promoted and maintained  across the whole hospital

How do you feel this benefits staff mental health?

Nurses adore seeing the happy faces of women when they hand them the charms and have stated to me that it is a really rewarding part of their job.  This will inevitably benefit their mental health as its such a lovely thing to do to some – give them a gift


Facts & Figures

79% of parents said a neonatal stay affected their mental health

Did you know, a ventilator costs on average £25,000

Did you know, reading to your baby in the NICU helps their development?

Leo's Neonatal

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