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Baby Café is a thriving network of approximately 50 community based breastfeeding support services, supporting over 6300 women to breastfeed across the UK in 2016.
A Baby Café is a breastfeeding drop-in run by skilled facilitators such as midwives, health visitors, lactation consultants or NCT breastfeeding counsellors, with the help of trained peer supporters and volunteers. They are held in a welcoming café style environment with refreshments and snacks and are accessible free of charge to all mothers needing support with breastfeeding.
Baby Cafés are held weekly and take place in easy access venues such as community centres and church halls. Expectant and new mums, their babies and partners, family members and friends can benefit from new friendships with other parents, and expert support and guidance on breastfeeding. 36% of mums who visit Baby Café do so more than once and 8% visit six or more times, benefitting from an ongoing model of social support.
The most common reason to visit is for social support followed by positioning and attachment, night time and sleep, sore nipples and hungry baby/milk supply. Women also attend for a variety of other breastfeeding concerns including tongue tie, thrush, mastitis and help with weaning or returning to work.
Mums can meet others in an informal environment, share experiences; look at books, leaflets and DVDs and get help on all aspects of breastfeeding and its impact on daily life. At the foundation of Baby Café is respect and support for mums to make their own informed decisions about feeding. In the words of one mother:
“If it wasn't for the support of Baby Café I would not be still breastfeeding and enjoying it! I have made lifelong friends at Baby Café. When I felt down about being a single mother Baby Café gave me a boost each week and now I am a peer supporter”
Helping to meet breastfeeding targets at 6-8 weeks
- Many women stop breastfeeding before they intend to because of lack of adequate support. Baby Café provides ongoing expert support for women throughout their breastfeeding journey
- A follow-up of 100 women using Baby Café in 2014/15 found that 75% said that Baby Café had enabled them to breastfeed for longer than they would have done without the support and 81% had fed for as long as they intended to
Thank you for all your support and advice. We made it to 6 months breastfeeding! I don't think we could have done it without your help. Here's to the next 6 months breastfeeding, and maybe even longer! (Mother using the Baby Café in 2016)
Meeting UNICEF Baby Friendly Standards for Breastfeeding Support in the community
- Baby Café is run on a clear and consistent successful model and meets UNICEF’s Baby Friendly Initiative. The model is flexible enough to deliver to a range of community profiles and appeals to a wide range of families, including those who are considered hard to reach.
- Baby Café facilitators identify women who need further support and will refer them to other local health and breastfeeding support services. All Baby Cafés reported making recommendations for women to visit another health professional during 2013, whilst 85% made formal direct referrals to GPs, Health Visitors, tongue-tie clinics or other breastfeeding services.
See the related documents on the right hand side for more examples of how Baby Café meets specific needs.
Baby Café facilitators have access to NCT specialists and a range of resources to help ensure success including templates, audit tools, translated materials, invitations and publicity materials. You can choose to run a Baby Café using your own in-house staff, or opt for the full-service option which can be run by NCT-trained Breastfeeding Counsellors.
For further information email CommissionedServices@nct.org.uk and one of our Regional Support Managers will contact you.