THERE is now more support than ever to help new mums in Knowsley who want to breastfeed their baby.
Despite historically low levels of breastfeeding across the borough, Knowsley Council say rates have steadily increased in the last decade.
A range of initiatives are in place to help increase the uptake.
As well as peer-led breastfeeding support to mothers, a programme has been launched in a bid to help Knowsley achieve full UNICEF Baby Friendly Accreditation by December.
Community Midwifery Teams have been enhanced through the addition of Public Health Development Midwives - who provide targeted support to women who are less likely to breastfeed.
Also, the borough runs the Family Nurse Partnership programme (FNP), a preventative programme which works with a number of first-time young mothers to help them understand their baby.
Structured home visits are delivered by specially trained family nurses who offer the programme from early pregnancy until the child is two years of age.
Family nurses work with the mother, father and the wider family. The programme is also aimed at reducing the levels of smoking in pregnancy, increasing the number of women starting to breastfeed and increasing immunisation rates.
Last month it was revealed that around one in five pregant St Helens smoke - compared to 27.7 per cent in 2004.
Health chiefs believe the training of midwives to show mums-to-be the impact of smoking on their baby has helped to drive up health standards in pregnancy.
Director of public health, Liz Gaulton, said: “The rates of women smoking throughout their pregnancy in Halton and St Helens have reduced dramatically from 28 per cent to 19 per cent in the last 10 years but we have some way to go to reach the national target of 11 per cent by 2015.
“Stopping smoking when you are pregnant is the best thing you can do for your baby and will give them the best start in life. There is lots of support available so it has never been a better time to stop.
“We also have a smoke free homes scheme where we are asking people not to smoke in front of children in their home or car.”