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Caithness mothers trained to help new mums with breastfeeding

Issued: 30 Aug 2010

A group of Caithness mothers who breastfed their own children have just completed a training course to enable them to help other mums to breastfeed successfully - particularly in the early days after leaving hospital.

The women, who responded to an appeal for mothers to train as volunteer breastfeeding peer supporters, have commenced calling new mums in the area to offer them support from someone with firsthand experience of breastfeeding.

NHS Highland Infant Feeding Advisor, Karen Mackay, said: “This is an exciting venture that will mean new mums, who are breastfeeding, will get a call from one of our peer supporters soon after arriving home from hospital.

“Members of the Caithness group have been very keen to train as peer supporters and are looking forward to helping to support other women who wish to breastfeed.

“Breastfeeding is not always easy and sometimes a friendly voice and correct advice is all that is needed to overcome a problem.”

The four-week training course, held in the Ormlie Centre in Thurso has been delivered by Caroline Deacon, of the National Childbirth Trust, in accordance with public health guidance on improving the nutrition of pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and children.

The course involved four training sessions, each lasting four hours, with an additional six reflective sessions. The volunteers also had to undertake all NHS Highland mandatory training and attend corporate induction sessions.

Mrs Mackay pointed out that new mums already receive help and support from their healthcare professionals after leaving hospital and that the support they receive from the volunteer peer supporters would be additional to this.

The volunteers have also set up a local breastfeeding support group called “Bumps and Babies”. It meets every Tuesday from 2 – 3pm at the Thurso Free Church Hall

Mrs Mackay said: “Volunteer peer supporters have already been trained in Sutherland, Ross-Shire, Inverness and Lochaber and another is planned for Skye. As these women complete their training, more mums in the NHS Highland area will be able to receive support via this network.

“Breastfeeding mothers, particularly those who are doing it for the first time, tell us they find it helpful to be able to discuss their experiences of breastfeeding and get support and advice from women who have done it themselves.”

She added that breastfeeding provided a baby with the very best start in life and also benefitted the mother’s health.

Mrs Mackay said benefits for the baby may include reducing the risk of developing obesity and diabetes. For the mother, they include a reduced risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

Anyone wanting more information or support with breastfeeding should contact NHS Highland Infant Feeding Advisors Janet Kellock or Karen Mackay on 01463 704842 or by email at Janet.kellock@nhs.net or Karen.mackay3@nhs.net.

© 2010 Highland Public Services Partnership.
Project part-financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund) within the INTERREG IIIB Northern Periphery Programme