A group of breastfeeding peer support volunteers have been trained up by Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s infant feeding team to support current and future mothers to breastfeed their new-born babies.
The peer supporters, who are all breastfeeding mothers themselves, will become breastfeeding champions to local women attending one of nine breastfeeding clubs that have been set up by the Trust and child health clinics in Derby. The breastfeeding clubs are open to any pregnant women who want to gain more information about their feeding choices, mothers who are already breastfeeding and those who provide breast milk to their infants.
The volunteers will facilitate clubs alongside a health visitor. They will offer breastfeeding mums an opportunity to share their experiences on a mother-to-mother level with the hope of improving their experience of the service and their self-esteem, and bridging any gaps between the health professional and the breastfeeding mother.
Each breastfeeding peer supporter has undergone an extensive eight week training course which has included information on how to position and attach a baby effectively to the breast for feeding, hand expressing, the barriers to breastfeeding, communications skills, health benefits, common problems and responsive feeding.
Lucy Partington, a breastfeeding peer support volunteer, said: “I always wanted to volunteer as I had lots of fantastic help from the Trust’s infant feeding team with my first daughter. I want to be able to offer realistic support to other breastfeeding mums as there are so many long term benefits to children.”
Carolyn Green, executive director of nursing and patient experience, who recently presented each volunteer with their certificates for passing the training course said: “We would like to inspire our local community to be supportive and encouraging to mothers in Derby who choose to breastfeed. We want breastfeeding to be spoken about openly and in a positive way. Our clubs offer mums a safe place to speak about breastfeeding in a relaxed friendly environment, and to seek help if they need it from a health visitor or a breastfeeding peer supporter.
“There are so many benefits of breastfeeding to both the physical and psychological health of infants and mothers both in the short and long term; however statistics show that in Derby we have a lower percentage of mothers breastfeeding their children than the national average. Training mothers to become breastfeeding peer supporters is one of our ways to show our commitment to improving these figures and encouraging more women to breastfeed their babies.”