A group of 10 mothers have completed their training to become breastfeeding peer supporters in Rutland.
Leicestershire Partnership Trust PT’s health visiting service was recently awarded the prestigious international ‘Baby Friendly’ accreditation in recognition of the high quality of its infant feeding support.
The network of trained breastfeeding peer supporters working in the local community is a key part of that provision.
The breastfeeding peer support programme was set up by the trust in 2009 to champion breastfeeding as the best choice where possible for parents and babies.
There are now about 60 trained volunteers - all of whom have breastfed their own children – across four geographical areas, including Rutland.
Working closely with other breastfeeding organisations including the National Childbirth Trust and the Mammas Programme, the trust’s peer supporters speak at ante-natal workshops, as well as running local support groups and providing on-the-spot advice to new mums via phone and social media.
Recently 10 women from Rutland graduated as peer supporters following a rigorous 14-week training programme. They have all had to overcome their own issues relating to breastfeeding, including tongue tie, reflux, mastitis and blocked ducts. Some have fed premature babies, and some have continued to breastfeed their toddlers. These experiences makes them ideally placed to offer practical help to new mums.
One of the ways they can do this is through the Breast Feeding Support Rutland coffee mornings which take place on Wednesdays at Visions Children’s Centre in Oakham from 10am to midday.
Breastfeeding has a range of health benefits for both mothers and babies.
Course leader and Rutland family health visitor Victoria Hubbard said: “I visit so many women who want to breastfeed their babies but are finding it difficult. It’s easy to say that women should breastfeed, but they need a support network in place, especially during the first six weeks.
“Having a group of women who live locally and can offer reassurance where it is needed, not to mention a shoulder to cry on, is invaluable.”