Mums and babies gather to celebrate breastfeeding in Chester
New mums from across Chester gathered for a special celebration at the Storyhouse to mark national breastfeeding week.
More than 100 mothers, bonny babies and friends attended ‘The Big Feed’ event on 28 June, which was jointly organised by the infant feeding teams from the Countess of Chester Hospital Foundation Trust and Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
Former Coronation Street actor Ian Puleston-Davies, who grew up in Chester, was on hand to show his support. He presented the Countess with the Unicef Baby Friendly Accreditation Award as well as declaring the Storyhouse a breastfeeding friendly venue.
“It was an absolute pleasure to help out,” he said. “Getting the chance to talk to mums, meet the staff and then present them with an award is always fantastic. Previously when I’ve attended events like this it was at the hospital itself, but this time it was a double whammy with it being at the fantastic Storyhouse as well. I remember going to see films there when it was the Odeon! It was a wonderful celebration of the unit at the Countess, which is where my son was born.”
Kim Hanbury attended the celebration with her eight-month-old daughter Fearne, using it as an opportunity to catch up with other new mums she met at an antenatal class at the Countess over a cup of coffee.
“I really like the atmosphere,” she said. “The dedication of the healthcare staff is fantastic and it’s so great for high profile venues like this to show support and normalise breastfeeding in the community.”
After the tremendous success of the event at the Storyhouse, a second event was held, the very next day, at The Hive, Dale Barracks, Chester on 29 June. Called The Breastfeeding Friendly Tea party, it was a real family affair, with a number of stalls offering fun activities for visitors to explore.
This being a tea party, there was also ample opportunity for some of the region’s mothers to relax with a cup of tea, or coffee if they preferred, and have a chat whilst their little ones enjoyed themselves.
Exhibiting at the event were a number of local companies such as Mini Makery (an edible arts and crafts company), Awesome Arty Party (led by Louis Wilson, who encourages the children to show their creative side and paint on a large piece of paper) and a local face-painting company led by Catherine Lawrence who set up the company after returning to the UK, having lived in New Zealand for a short while.
Also, there was a separate room for more activities for parents and their children to enjoy together. Among them were; Exercise with Baby, Laughter Tots and Baby Ballet. The activities proved to be a great thrill for the children and the parents enjoyed them immensely too.
Janet Beech, infant feeding co-ordinator at the Countess, was thrilled to see both events become such successes, saying: “Thank you so much to everyone who came along and contributed to our fantastic breastfeeding celebrations at the Storyhouse and Dale Barracks.
“It’s such a great feeling to know that so many people in Chester and the surrounding area support breastfeeding. It gives great pleasure to support mums and their families both in hospital and in the community during their breastfeeding journey.
“At the Countess we’ve worked really hard to achieve and maintain the prestigious Unicef Baby Friendly Accreditation and it was extra special that we were able to receive the award during Breastfeeding Awareness Week.”
Laura Evans, CWP infant feeding co-ordinator, who helped to organise the events, felt that both events were great successes: “Our event at the Storyhouse was amazing. Over 100 mums and dads attended with their babies and children. The feedback was fantastic and people are already asking for more events that bring breastfeeding mothers, or those who support breastfeeding, together.
“Our Breastfeeding Friendly Tea Party at Dale Barracks was also very successful. People commented that they really enjoyed sitting and chatting to other breastfeeding mums and some came along because they were facing challenges and wanted support.
“None of these events would have been possible without our wonderful Breastfeeding Friendly Chester and Bosom Buddy volunteers. Watch this space for more events over summer!”