Supporting Island mums by being a Breastfeeding Peer Support Worker

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NHS Western Isles is encouraging local mums to become Breastfeeding Peer Supporters, to provide additional support to new mums breastfeeding their babies.

There are 12 spaces locally for free training by The Breastfeeding Network, and at the end of the training, participants will get a nationally recognised qualification from the Open College Network, as well as the opportunity to provide support to other local mums.

The course will be delivered by a combination of face to face and Skype calls, and covers the basic knowledge to be able to support a breastfeeding woman as well as listening and counselling skills.

You do not need to still be breastfeeding to do the course, women of any age who have experience of breastfeeding are welcome to apply.

In the Western Isles, our exclusive breastfeeding rate (breastmilk only) is 37.6 per cent on transfer to health visitors from midwives at day 10-14 (2017/18 data).

There is a drop again at six to eight weeks to 31.1% per cent for exclusive breast feeding. This is where the peer supporters will have an invaluable role as additional support to mothers.

Breast milk is perfectly designed for babies: it protects babies from infections and disease, it provides health benefits for mums, it is available for your baby whenever your baby needs it, and it can build a strong emotional bond between you and your baby.

Formula milk does not provide the same protection from illness and does not give you any health benefits.

NHS Western Isles Health Visitor Team Lead Anna MacDonald said: “The benefits of breastfeeding to provide the best start in life for babies is clear and evidenced and we would encourage and support all new mums to breastfeed their babies.

“We are also aware that breastfeeding is not always easy for new mums, and there are a number of emotional and physical hurdles that sometimes have to be overcome.

“To be able to provide additional support, from others who have experienced a breastfeeding journey, as Breastfeeding Peer Supporters, is extremely important to us as a health service and we would encourage local mums to apply for this traiing.”

For more information, email kirstin.worsley@breastfeedingnetwork.org.uk