Thursday, 22 September 2011

Why is it so hard to help?

I've been passionate about breastfeeding since Baby Badger arrived. My views have developed and, in some ways, mellowed since my first posts, but I do still passionately believe that all mums should be given the knowledge and support they need in order to make it a success. For that reason, I decided I would see if I could be of any help to the local breastfeeding support group.

I have no grand airs about this. I'm aware that to become a fully qualified lactation consultant (such as The Analytical Armadillo) takes years of training, but if there's some way in which I can help improve our breastfeeding rates, and also improve our culture's perception of breastfeeding, I'd really like to have that impact.

The support group helps the local community in several ways. It has someone present at the local Children's Centres at the lunchtime drop in session to help with any breastfeeding issues and queries. One member carries the on-call phone to help anyone having issues outside surgery and clinic hours, either via phone or by a home visit. A monthly antenatal class is run to introduce mums to be to the pros and cons of breastfeeding, potential problems and what a good latch might look like (the NHS midwives also run a similar monthly daytime session, again with a member of the group to assist). Lastly, the group also tries to raise awareness (asking local cafes to display breastfeeding welcome signs, etc.). I work full time so can't help with the Baby Cafe or the daytime antenatal session, and was clear about that when I joined the group, but hoped I could help with the rest.

The first obstacle I've hit is training. The group insist (as do the Children's Centres) that peer supporters have been through some sort of training. I'm all in favour of that - currently I can only advise from my own experience and what I've researched, and I've had no experience of common issues such as thrush and mastitis. I'm a smart cookie and consider myself as having good judgement, but I would be much more confident of giving appropriate advice after training. The issue is not that I don't want training but that I don't seem to be able to get it. The next local course is in January (bear in mind I've been participating in this group for four months already) over eight consecutive Mondays... 10-3! That would involve a full day of annual leave for each as it spans lunchtime, using up almost half of my annual entitlement.

It appears that being a working mum and a peer supporter is going to be quite a juggling act.



  1. How frustrating! I hope you manage to work it out. Even if you can't get formal training straight away, just being there for new breastfeeding mums is so important - the professionals just don't have enough time and while bad advice can be worse than none, often just a sympathetic ear is enough to keep you going until you can get the help you need.

  2. As a full time working qualified peer supporter there are ways - I trained with the ABM who do a course by remote study so I could fit it in and around my work. I remember sitting waiting for a delayed plane in Reykjavik with my books working through my peer supporter module - I'm not quite sure what my colleagues thought

    At my last job I was a peer supporter for their breastfeeding support - it wasn't much, just being a face that could say yes you can breastfeed and work. At the same time we set up an independent support group and egroup so less tied into the rules and regulations a lot of places seem to insist on

    Hang on in there - the right opportunity will present itself (and drop me a line if you want to chat about it)

  3. Thank you both. It's great to have some encouragement!


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