In 2008 I struggled through the first few months of breastfeeding my son. It was really hard. I received help and support from friends, family, breastfeeding peer supporters and breastfeeding specialists. With their help, I gained confidence, we got the latch right, and we reached our breastfeeding goals. In 2011, I trained as a volunteer breastfeeding peer supporter so that I could be that support for other families in my community during their breastfeeding journey.
Our goal is to surround families with the help, information and support they need to reach their breastfeeding goals.
The funding goal is for £5000. With this budget we would be able to run a weekly specialist breastfeeding group for about 12 months, covering the costs of the location rental and breastfeeding specialist to provide support for the families and volunteers.
A breastfeeding group is a special place, a place where families can receive information and support from a breastfeeding specialist for any problems, or talk with the volunteer breastfeeding peer supporters if they just need to tweak a latch. Families can come along to make friends, chat and relax with a cup of tea. These groups are within the local community and do not require a referral or appointment.
A breastfeeding group is a place for families to come together and share experiences, triumphs and challenges. It's a place where children of all ages are welcomed and catered for. It's a place where you can have cake, and drink a cup of tea while it's still hot. It's a place to come when you don't yet have the confidence to feed in public, a place to practice and learn how what to wear and where you go can make all the difference, a place to make new friends to share their journey with as new parents. It's a place to come every week when you want a reason to get out of the house and a destination that has a spare nappy when you leave your bag at home.
But, it's not even all about the breastfeeding. Many of our volunteers go on to complete additional training in helping parents to use slings and carriers safely. Kent Sling Library will be on hand to share with parents the amazing benefits of using a sling with their newborn up to preschooler. Parents will have the opportunity to find the best sling for them, and be able to rent one for a small fee to make sure. Discovering slings can be life changing for new parents when they realise babies don't like being put down, or that they love to sleep on their parents chest.
Out of hours breastfeeding support will also be available for local families, who will have access to breastfeeding specialists, volunteers and each other 7 days a week through phone, email and social media for as long as they need.
Any funding raised above £5000 will allow us to provide additional services in the area
We plan to do this in a number of ways –
1. Low cost or free information sessions to families during pregnancy, making sure they have the knowledge to make the right decisions for them and the tools to get breastfeeding off to a great start. Families will also have the chance to start building their support network of friends. The sessions will focus on breastfeeding, attachment, understanding early newborn behaviour, and postnatal depression.
2. Additional drop-in specialist breastfeeding groups where families can receive information and support from a breastfeeding specialist for any problems, volunteer breastfeeding peer supporters if they just need to tweak a latch, or just come along to make friends, chat and relax with a cup of tea. These groups will be within the local community and will not require a referral or appointment.
3. Having breastfeeding peer supporters in the local hospital. We plan to train volunteer breastfeeding peer supporters using our university accredited programme. The volunteers will then build their confidence and skills within the community groups alongside the specialist before volunteering on the local maternity ward. Peer supporters will be available at the hospital throughout the week to support families immediately after birth.
4. Training and supporting local women in their career development. Volunteers will have the opportunity to build their confidence and learn new skills, helping them gain future employment. Many volunteers in the past have gone on to work on the maternity ward, attend college or university to become nurses and midwives, or study to become breastfeeding counsellors and lactation consultants.
Funding received will be used to pay for specialist support and room rental for the groups and training, creche provision throughout the training, any training materials and equipment we need in addition to what we have already, and for a peer support lead to manage day to day logistics of the volunteers and promote the services locally. We plan to continue this project past 12 months through further grants, donations and money raised by renting slings and pumps through the groups.
“I went for breastfeeding support at 7 weeks post partum, the peer supporter allowed my daughter to feed from both sides and I didn't feel at all rushed. Whilst she was feeding the peer supporter spoke to my husband and I like we were friends and gave us reassurance as first time parents. We left with smiles on our faces knowing we were doing ok, our daughter had just fed so we went to Bluewater for our first family outing as she gave us confidence in our abilities. My daughter is nearly 3 and my husband and I still talk about that day and we will forever be so grateful” Danielle then went on to train as a Peer Supporter in 2017
“Being a peer supporter for me was the first step in working towards a whole new career. The training helped me realise I was capable of learning and of achieving something academic. Supporting mothers in my community helped me feel useful and made me realise the skills I have are worthwhile” Jennifer 2017