Partnership working during the coronavirus pandemic – Joy Hastings, Tower Hamlets Baby Feeding Service Manager

Joy’s colleague Noelle in full PPE.

Tower Hamlets Baby Feeding Service usually works with the Breastfeeding Network to provide extended breastfeeding services to families. We are employed by the Maternity service at the Royal London hospital but commissioned by Public Health.

During the pandemic, paid workers have continued working, while the BfN volunteers have been restricted to supporting online antenatal workshops and postnatal groups. We are hoping that this will continue to increase our capacity. 

We have continued visiting the postnatal wards throughout the lockdown. After some initial confusion in the early days, we now have one or two members of the team on the ward 7 days a week.

When we see a mum – we wear scrubs, goggles, mask, apron & gloves. We try to stay 2m away when talking but we do go in closer when needed to review positioning and attachment. We don’t see any mum with COVID19 or suspected COVID. The midwives will support those mums to breastfeed.

Partners have continued to be with mum in labour, but after the baby is born, they are not able to come to the postnatal ward. Sadly, some mums do struggle with that. The aim is to get mums home ASAP.  

The community nurse team is now visiting at home – and babies can have antibiotics and phototherapy at home. However, only some of the mums get a community midwife home visit – they are the home birth mums and the vulnerable mums. All the mums come to one postnatal clinic, where they are seen by the midwife on Day 5 and 10 (in between if needed). One of the breastfeeding team is there Monday to Friday as well.

Other services are available to mum too, including phone and video calls serviced with half of the team working from home. The tongue tie clinic has continued throughout so we are still able to refer mums there too.

Overall the team has adapted well to the new circumstances – and some things seem better (e.g. we can see far more mums at the postnatal clinic than we can doing home visits. However video calls are hard work)

Most of the mums don’t know any different, but they are very keen to see us face to face – so I think that is still the gold standard of a breastfeeding service.


On behalf of BfN and all of the families that you have supported – thank you Joy and your team.