Welcome to the home of Breastfeeding the Brave, a resource for both mothers/parents and professionals supporting breastfed medically complex infants and children.

Breastfeeding the Brave seeks to raise awareness of the different challenges experienced by parents of sick children in the paediatric setting. While breastfeeding support could always be improved in every setting, paediatrics lags behind in terms of the support systems, resources, training, skills and knowledge, policy and research.

Baby Friendly training and accreditation strengthens neonatal, maternity and community teams, but there are no established systems at this time in paediatrics.

On this website you can find my research, and links to resources, books, training and the support group.

The Challenge

Paediatrics is a separate healthcare directorate to neonatal and maternity care. Midwives receive specific infant feeding and breastfeeding training as part of their core training. More and more maternity and neonatal units are becoming baby friendly – which means that their staff will have access to training and be audited.

By contrast, paediatric wards are staffed by nurses who usually have specific paediatric nurse training – which does not include oral feeding (only nasogastric and gastrostomy feeding), and doctors who have often not received any infant feeding training. There may also be allied health professionals such as physiotherapists, speech and language therapists, dietitians and psychologists – none of whom have necessarily had any training in breastfeeding.

So, in both the neonatal and maternity settings, as well as the community, breastfeeding training and infant feeding support is much more embedded. In paediatrics, the experiences of parents is much more likely to be inconsistent, and dependent on the individual experiences of the staff delivering care. Some paediatric professionals are highly experienced, access additional breastfeeding training, and may have breastfed their own babies. Other professionals may have received no training, and either not breastfed their own children, or may bring challenging or negative experiences of feeding with them.

In the paediatric ward or PICU while there are notable and wonderful exceptions, it is common for there to be: no designated paediatric infant feeding lead or team, no mandatory training for paediatric professionals, fewer facilities, no pumping room in paediatrics, barriers to storing pumped milk in the fridge, discrepancies with policies on providing food to parents, difficulties accommodating breastfed siblings of patients, breast pumps may have to be loaned from maternity departments, and while sometimes a midwife or neonatal nurse might visit the paediatric ward, this is dependent on their own workload, and cannot be guaranteed.

About Me

Hi, I’m Lyndsey Hookway.

I qualified as a paediatric nurse in 2004, having received a fairly standard 2 hour training on breastfeeding and bottle feeding. I quickly realized that this training was woefully inadequate and in no way prepared me for working on the paediatric ward. I funded my own training, read a great deal, sat in on infant feeding clinics and kept learning. I eventually trained as a health visitor, and then as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), qualifying in 2011.

In 2010, my eldest breastfed child was admitted to hospital for a week with meningitis. She had several other challenges that made feeding difficult, and the support I needed was impossible to find, though we continued to breastfeed until she was 3 years old. In 2016 my second child became critically ill very suddenly. She was admitted with sepsis, but subsequently diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. She endured 26 months of chemotherapy and was breastfed throughout.

My research, support work and advocacy are thus the culmination of both professional frustration and personal lived experience.

You can download my CV here.


Breastfeeding the Brave

Resources and FAQs for parents & professionals If your child or patient/client has just been diagnosed with a medical condition, illness or disability, please start here. This is a collection of resources and guidelines collated over my years of supporting families of medically complex children. Note that research is currently extremely limited in relation to breastfeeding medically …

When your breastfed baby is admitted to hospital

A hospital admission is extremely scary and overwhelming, whatever the reason for the admission. When you’re breastfeeding your baby, this can be especially difficult. Sometimes it can feel like breastfeeding is being put on ‘the back burner’ when there is a problem with your baby’s health or weight, but actually, there is no need for breastfeeding to be …

Contact & Support

email lyndsey@feedsleepbond.com

Join the BFTB Facebook group

Breastfeeding the Brave started as a small support group on Facebook. A number of parents had reached out to me knowing that I had breastfed a child through cancer. The group grew and we decided to make an awareness raising video. The group provides peer support to parents facing huge and varied feeding challenges with their medically complex children.

When possible and appropriate, advocacy for children and families admitted in a UK hospital will also be offered.