Original image by Mothering Touch via http://www.flickr.com/photos/motheringtouch/5204648711/sizes/z/in/photostream/
Susie Orbach has been working towards achieving approval of a pilot program within the NHS, which would address the transmission of intergenerational eating and body problems, highlighting the importance of mother - baby bonding through feeding.
Mothers’ difficulties and concerns about weight and shape directly effect well-being and the relationship to early feeding and feeding in general. An awareness of one’s body and how one feels in it is tied in to how one feeds and nurtures ones baby. Feeding a newborn child is complicated (and exciting) on several levels- the technical as well as the emotional. Mother and baby have to learn this together.
This process takes time, but if mothers can learn this in a supportive and nurturing environment, with people who are trained and aware of the complexities that arise when feeding happens, both mother and baby can get off to a good start which will help to establish comfort with food and with their bodies.
By training the Health Visitors and Midwives, and naming the discomfort around body anxiety if it arises so it can be addressed and understood, Health Visitors can then help to support the mother and give her some comfort and confidence to care and nurture her child. These early lessons, if taught properly and consciously, can stay with mothers as they wean their baby, and learn to feed themselves and their child throughout life.
Lynn Featherstone MP and Anne Milton were very supportive of this project when Susie Orbach and Holli Rubin of the EB London team met with them June 2012. Unfortunately, a parliamentary reshuffle caused the project to loose some footing. We were directed toward Tara Kaufman, head of Women's engagement, Government for Equalities office, where we met to continue the discussion around the potential contribution of Health visitors and Midwives to body confidence in the pre/post natal period.
The meeting was positive, and opinions and research highlighted shared views that this program would benefit mothers, babies and staff who are with them in the early days. What remains is a need to establish funding to run the project and make it sustainable, and we are actively pursuing a number of avenues to make it happen.
In February 2013 once again we were invited back to Parliament but this time through another channel, and for some good news:
On February 5th, 2013 the Department of Education signed on to accept Graham Allen MP's proposal to establish The Early Intervention Foundation. One of his key recommendations is to ensure that " every baby, child and young person has the social and emotional capabilities to fulfil their potential. The cost of not intervening is too great”.
The pilot program we are putting forward is well suited to be part of this new Early Intervention Foundation. Graham Allen was indeed very supportive and enthusiastic about collaborating, and building on this excellent first step we will reconvene in the summer, once the foundation is set up, to determine the future steps in collaborating. We are getting closer, step by little push.