Becoming a Peer Supporter
Breastfeeding Jack and Oliver went really smoothly they both latched well and everything went fine. With Arthur I developed mastitis, had issues with his latch and wanted to just throw in the towel at six weeks. It was really horrid and if it wasn't for the support of some of my friends a couple of which were breastfeeding peer supporters I would have easily stopped. Instead we reached two years and seven months and loved every moment!
My local National Childbirth Trust (NCT) advertised for women to train as breastfeeding peer supporters. After my rocky start with feeding Arthur I wanted to do my bit to help encourage mums to breastfeed so applied. At the beginning of the course there was 10 of us all with the same aim of promoting breastfeeding support. The course was in depth and was held in the evenings. It lasted for five weeks and covered everything from different positions for breastfeeding mothers to learning how to effectively listen to the mums.
There was a couple of role play scenarios which at the time I remember feeling really shy about doing, but it was great! I overcame my fear of public speaking and learnt a lot about taking the time to listen. I tend to think ahead and jump in mid conversation! Each week we were given coursework which we had to complete. The coursework wasn't difficult and the answers were covered each week. At the end of the course we were all given a nationally credited certificate.
Once qualified there was several ways we could help support breastfeeding mothers,
· 48 hour calls - The hospital forwards on contact details on all the mothers (who were happy to be contacted) who had given birth within 48 hours. You were to call them to see how they were, and to see if they needed support? Most of the time the mothers were all fine, sometimes they would have some questions. Others they just wanted confirmation that everything was okay. We would arrange to call back in two weeks to see if they needed help and support.
· Maternity Hospital - Going into the maternity hospital to talk to the mums, help with latching and generally talking to them and supporting them.
· Baby Café - Social groups where qualified breastfeeding councillors and peer supporters are on hand for face to face support.
After I qualified I volunteered to do the 48 hour calls. Every Monday I received a list of the numbers. The ladies had just had their babies and were exhausted but overall so very happy! Some loved to talk about their birth, their experience others were just happy for someone to talk to. The support I gave was as simple as directing them to a local baby café group, or just to help ease any concerns they may have i.e. Are they feeding enough? Getting plenty of wet nappies? Etc.
I recently had to give up my role as a peer supporter, but I also volunteer my time running a cloth nappy library so at the moment that and my family took priority. I would totally recommend anyone thinking of becoming a peer supporter to do it! You learn so much and once life has settle down, I am looking forward to going back to it.