Infant feeding specialist appointed to help parents

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Midwife specialist for infant feeding Debbie McCoy Picture: SOPHIE DARWIN

THE Island’s first infant feeding specialist has been appointed to support families with their babies.

Debbie McCoy, midwife specialist for infant feeding, will help mothers and their partners during pregnancy and post-natally, whether feeding through breast milk or formula.

Ms McCoy said: ‘Breastfeeding can be difficult and some people do struggle.

‘We are here to ensure that the journey is as stress-free as possible. It’s not just about breastfeeding, we also want to make sure we are giving parents the right, unbiased advice about formula feeding.’

The creation of the new role was one of the key priorities of Health Minister Karen Wilson and it was campaigned for by head of midwifery Dana Scott and the senior midwifery leadership team.

The Births and Breastfeeding Profile for 2022, published by Public Health last month, showed that 65% of mothers in Jersey were breastfeeding six to eight weeks after giving birth, compared to 49% of mothers in England.

Ms McCoy added: ‘We used to say breast is best but informed is best.

‘We want parents to have the correct, evidence-based information so they can make informed decisions.’

As part of the role, Ms McCoy will be responsible for ensuring midwives have ongoing professional support and are up-to-date with guidance in order to give families consistent feeding advice.

Meryl Laisney and family. Picture: Sophie Darwin (35582356)

Meryl Laisney, a mother who benefited from Ms McCoy’s advice, said: ‘I feel really fortunate to have received this support from Debbie.

‘I remember her saying, it is a skill you and baby need to learn. She gives you so much support, empathy and patience to inspire you to keep going.

‘I often describe Debbie as the breastfeeding oracle. What you need as a mum is that consistent support. It is important to have that advice for women at an early stage if they are having struggles.’

Ms McCoy will also be responsible for assisting with the Island’s assessment under the Unicef Baby Friendly Initiative, a programme designed to help parents build relationships with their babies and to make their own feeding choices.

Jersey began working towards this accreditation in June 2018 and achieved level one in January 2021. The Island is due to be assessed for level two in September and hopes to gain level three accreditation by the end of 2024.