This week we talked to Kimberley Davies (31) from Hertfordshire, who is a trained Breastfeeding peer supporter.
Hello Kimberley, thanks for talking to us today. So you have two daughters, is that right?
Yes, Amber is a calm and relaxed personality who enjoys art and crafts and is always making things for her family and friends. Maya is a little livewire who only sits still to eat and sleep!
And you breastfed both your children. Did you find breastfeeding hard at first? Where did you find support?
I found the act of breastfeeding easy in the main, apart from the latch being slightly off in the first couple of weeks which meant I got cracked, sore and sometimes bleeding nipples. The worry for me was more that I needed reassurance about how often baby wanted to feed (all the time, with my first baby, it seemed!) and what length of feeding session was deemed 'normal'.
I went to a lovely breastfeeding support group run by the NHS at my local clinic and got a lot of answers there. I was lucky though, that even though I did not know lots of people who had breastfed or were breastfeeding at the time, my mum breastfed me for a long time and she was always on the end of the phone reassuring me everything was normal!
With my second baby, I knew after my training what I was to be aware of with the latch, and the sore and cracked nipples were not a problem really.
How long did you breastfeed for?
I breastfed my first child, Amber - now five, for two and a half years and my second, Maya - now two, for two years. As my mum fed me for a long time, it was natural for me to continue as long as my babies and I were happy to do so.
Why did you originally decide to train as a breastfeeding peer supporter?
Being a breastfeeding peer supporter is about offering mother-to-mother support and encouragement. I was already being asked breastfeeding questions by my friends who subsequently had had babies, so I thought it would be a good idea to formalise what I knew and gain some recognised training.
Also, I had a relatively smooth ride, so I needed to understand a bit more about breastfeeding issues that were not part of my experience, such as mastitis or supply issues, or areas such as breastfeeding twins or tandem feeding, which, again, I knew little about.
Who did you train with?
I trained under a local NCT Breastfeeding Counsellor, her name is Bethany Greene.
What did the training entail?
We spent two hours every week for eight weeks learning about the 'science' behind breastfeeding (e.g. how milk is produced, what it is made of, supply and demand, the perfect latch and much more). Also potential emotional and physical obstacles to breastfeeding and how to try to overcome them if the mother wishes to continue. Plus practicalities of feeding such as positions, and also learning about who we could refer mums to if we felt the situation warranted a more a breastfeeding counsellor or healthcare professional.
We also meet up once a month or so for ongoing training sessions of two hours each to look at issues we feel we need to come back to or to discuss breastfeeding questions we have come across.
What do you think are the main benefits to breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding gives babies all the nutrients they need for healthy development. It contains antibodies that help boost baby's immune system, it costs nothing to breastfeed and is always on tap ready for when baby is hungry. There is also no faffing around with bottles and sterilising.
Breastfeeding for me was a wonderful bonding experience too and I am glad I am lowering my risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer later in life by feeding my babies myself. The benefits list goes on and on!
For more information on what being a breastfeeding peer supporter entails or to find out about training, go to www.nct.org.uk. You can also find information at www.breastfeeding.nhs.uk, including details about this year's National Breastfeeding Awareness Week, which runs from 21 - 27 June.