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Breastfeeding awareness

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It’s World Breastfeeding Awareness Week between 1 – 7 August and here, North Warwickshire Bromford support worker, LouiseTas talks about why she became a breastfeeding peer support counsellor.

I decided I wanted to volunteer as a breastfeeding peer support counsellor after my own two very different experiences of breastfeeding.

I was adamant that I wanted to breastfeed when my first baby arrived, I expected my little bundle of joy to be handed me and for us both to just know what to do when it came to feeding, I had read the books so what could go wrong? What I had not expected was how hard I actually found it. I didn’t share with midwives or my family at first that I was finding it uncomfortable; I just thought that this was the way it was. I thought cracked nipples and the pain I felt when my baby latched on were just part of breastfeeding and so would hold my breath and count to ten and pretend to everyone that all was fine at every single feed. Mum came to my rescue reassuring and encouraging me when I very nearly gave up although I knew that I didn’t want to. Very slowly it did get easier, the pain went away and I found that we both learned how to do things more comfortably, slowly but surely we became professionals and all the difficult experiences were forgotten….

Until my second little one came along. I remembered the pain and the discomfort intensely but this time I mentioned it in passing to my midwife. She explained that what I had been through first time around wasn’t to be expected and gave me all the help and support I needed to feel confident from the start to show my precious little one just what to do correctly. No pain at every feed, no need to worry, just enjoy.

So after my second breastfeeding experience was so positive from the start and, by accessing my local children’s centre for different activities, I saw a poster asking for volunteer breastfeeding peer counsellors. They were asking for breastfeeding mums to provide support to others that were starting their breastfeeding journey. I started my peer counsellor course in August 2013 and 12 weeks later I was a qualified breastfeeding peer councillor through Homestart. In my local town we are headed up by a breastfeeding coordinator who runs drop-in groups throughout the week, peer councilors go to these groups to provide support and advice.

On a rota system we also have a phone so that anyone who would like advice can call and leave a message for someone to call them back, receive referrals from midwives of expectant and new mums who they have asked if they would like a phone call advising them of our support; provide one-to-one home visits to mums on request; and finally we also have a facebook page that any breastfeeding mum in my town can join….whether it be day or, more importantly, night when you can feel so alone, you can guarantee that one of our peer councillors or members is around with a few words of reassurance or an answer to a question that you may have.  I love volunteering for something that I really connect with; I like the fact that by offering people advice, time, support and reassurance you can support them to continue breastfeeding for as long as they want, rather than them feeling they have no other option but to stop at the wrong time with a negative experience.

Following on from the programme Children’s Centres around North Warwickshire offer breastfeeding groups such as;

•    Cot Gossip with Breastfeeding Support - Stockingford Children’s Centre, Nuneaton.
•    Introduction to Breastfeeding – Booking required. Riversley Park Children’s Centre, Nuneaton.
•    Breast Friends Hour -CampHill Children’s Centre, Nuneaton.
•    Breastfeeding Support - Atherstone Children’s Centre. Atherstone.
•    Breastfeeding Cafe -  Ladybrook Children’s Centre, Nuneaton.
•    Bosom Buddies -Kingsbury Children’s Centre, Kingbury.
•    Bosom Buddies -Polesworth Children’s Centre, Polesworth.