The Evening News has teamed up with health chiefs to recognise the unsung heroes who help make a huge difference to the lives of people across the Lothians.
As part of NHS Lothian’s Celebrating Success Awards, we talk with Yvonne Fairholm, a school nurse who was having problems breastfeeding her baby daughter Edie – a “reluctant feeder” after being born weighing just 5 pounds 9 ounces.
Yvonne paid tribute to staff at the North Berwick and Gullane health visiting service who provided her with invaluable help at the point where she was about to throw in the towel on breastfeeding young Edie, now aged 11 months.
She said: “When Edie was born she was very tiny, just 5 pound 9 ounces, and was clinically known as a ‘reluctant feeder’ which meant that she wasn’t happy to take milk any way.
“So I was kept in hospital for four days and I’d had enough – so I was happy to tackle breastfeeding on my own at home.
“The midwives were with me for the first ten days and were great – then I was passed over to the health visitors.
“I was really struggling by this point, I couldn’t get her latched on and when I could get her latched on it was really painful, so I phoned the health visitor service and they came out within an hour to see me.
“They gave me support, it wasn’t so much worry but I was ready to give up by that point – I was ready to say ‘I’ve had enough of breastfeeding’.
“I couldn’t deal with the pain any more and they were there so quickly to give me support and help me out.”
She added: “The health visitor Jill Kynoch came, she was very relaxed, there was no rush – she sat with me and helped me.
“Jill reassured me that I was doing the right things and that I could do it and I found that really helpful.
“She invited me along to the breastfeeding support group in Gullane which I went to right up until I went back to work.
“Edie is now doing really, really well and we’re still breastfeeding which we wouldn’t have been if it hadn’t have been for the health visitor.
“I would like to see them get an award so they know how much support they have been, not just to me but to a group of us who they’ve really helped with feeding and I would love to see them get that recognition they deserve.”
Alison MacDonald, Chief Nurse for East Lothian, said: “Working as part of the health visiting team is such a varied and interesting job and being able to help parents during the all important first years of their child’s life is a reward in itself. That said, the team are absolutely delighted to have been nominated for an award recognising their hard work.”
The Health Hero award is open to anyone who works for NHS Lothain, to recognise those who give their all into delivering outstanding patient care throughout the region.
To nominate your Health Hero, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0131-465 5647. The closing date for entries is April 14. The shortlist will be announced in early May with winners revealed at the Corn Exchange on June 16.