The latest cohort of mums to complete their training to become breastfeeding peer supporters in Melton have celebrated their graduation.
The programme was originally established in 2009 to champion breastfeeding as the best choice where possible for parents and babies.
Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust (LPT) supports 143 trained volunteers – all of whom have breastfed their own children.
Working closely with other breastfeeding organisations and colleagues at children’s centres, LPT’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.
The women who graduated at Melton have had to overcome their own issues relating to breastfeeding and the range of their experiences makes them ideally placed to offer practical help to new mums.
Carole Fishwick, LPT’s infant feeding lead, said: “All of our peer supporters undergo a rigorous training programme.
“The course covers everything from how to latch a baby on to the breast to the emotional impact that breastfeeding can have on women.
“We have good breastfeeding rates in our area, but we want to improve them because we know that breast milk is the best nutrition that you can give to your baby.
“I am really proud of the dedication and commitment shown by our latest graduates in Melton, and am delighted that they have chosen to help our health visiting teams to support new families in this way.”
The peer support programme is delivered through the local BreastFriends group.
LPT’s health visiting service holds the prestigious international ‘baby friendly’ accreditation in recognition of the high quality of its infant feeding support, provided as part of Healthy Together, their 0-19 years services for children, young people and families.
The network of trained breastfeeding peer supporters working in the local community is a key part of that provision.
LPT say breastfeeding has a range of health benefits for both mothers and babies. Breastfed babies are less likely to suffer from gastro-intestinal, respiratory, urinary tract and ear infections. They are less likely to have asthma, eczema, food allergies and diabetes.
The danger of obesity in later childhood is also lessened by breastfeeding. At the same time, mothers who breastfeed may find it easier to return to their pre-pregnancy weight and are less likely to develop breast and ovarian cancers.