Being a Breastfeeding Peer Supporter // by The Mum Diaries

Note from Naomi: Todays post is a guest post from the lovely Jaymee from The Mum Diaries. If you like what she has written here, then you will love her blog. Check it out here.

Breastfeeding my first child was a doddle for me. Jack latched on to the breast straight away, and we ran in to no problems.

When he was 9 weeks old my beloved nan passed away. I was distraught her funeral was planned and I was determined to go. My mother in law offered to look after him and all I had to do was express.

I was so determined to pump - but I couldn’t.

No matter what I tried nothing was coming out. In the end I packed a couple of bottles of ready-made formula. Jack made the switch surprisingly well, and in the end I found it easier to just switch to formula.

When I was 6 months pregnant with Oliver I developed 'post nasal drip'. This basically meant I produced too much mucus in my nose. Luckily it is treatable using antihistamines and decongestants. I was hoping when Oliver was born, the symptoms would ease. I had no problems feeding Oliver, however at my 6 week check, the Dr told me I needed to take the decongestants.Unfortunately they weren’t suitable to be taken alongside breastfeeding.

I had to decide between medication or feeding.

I chose medication. I was feeling pretty run down, and fed up of having a blocked, snotty nose and not being able to smell or taste anything. It turned out the medication didn’t alleviate the symptoms. So I had given up breastfeeding for nothing.

I decided during my pregnancy with Arthur, that no matter what I would try my hardest to continue to feed. I had lived with post nasal drip for over 2 years, and it had become a normal part of my life.

Arthur latched on well, and, until he was around 8 weeks old, feeding went great.

Breastfeeding my first child was a doddle for me. Jack latched on to the breast straight away, and we ran in to no problems.

When he was 9 weeks old my beloved nan passed away. I was distraught her funeral was planned and I was determined to go. My mother in law offered to look after him and all I had to do was express.

I was so determined to pump - but I couldn’t.

No matter what I tried nothing was coming out. In the end I packed a couple of bottles of ready-made formula. Jack made the switch surprisingly well, and in the end I found it easier to just switch to formula.

When I was 6 months pregnant with Oliver I developed 'post nasal drip'. This basically meant I produced too much mucus in my nose. Luckily it is treatable using antihistamines and decongestants. I was hoping when Oliver was born, the symptoms would ease. I had no problems feeding Oliver, however at my 6 week check, the Dr told me I needed to take the decongestants.Unfortunately they weren’t suitable to be taken alongside breastfeeding.

I had to decide between medication or feeding.

I chose medication. I was feeling pretty run down, and fed up of having a blocked, snotty nose and not being able to smell or taste anything. It turned out the medication didn’t alleviate the symptoms. So I had given up breastfeeding for nothing.

I decided during my pregnancy with Arthur, that no matter what I would try my hardest to continue to feed. I had lived with post nasal drip for over 2 years, and it had become a normal part of my life.

Arthur latched on well, and, until he was around 8 weeks old, feeding went great.

My local National Childbirth Trust advertised for women to train as a breastfeeding peer supporter. I wanted to do my bit to help encourage mums to breastfeed so applied. The course was held in the evenings and lasted for 5 weeks. The course covered everything from different positions for breastfeeding mothers; to learning how to effectively listen to the mothers so we could help support them.

There was a couple of role play scenarios - which at the time I remember feeling really shy about doing - but it was great! I really learnt a lot about taking the time to listen and not jumping in, mid conversation. We had coursework to complete, and all the answers were covered in the training meetings. I met some great people, and together we all became peer supporters.

Once qualified there are several ways we help support breastfeeding mothers:

  • 48 Hour Calls
    The hospital forward on the contact details of any the mothers (who were happy to be contacted) who had given birth within the last 48 hours.
    As a peer supporter you call them to see how they are, and to see if they need support.
    Most of the time the mothers are fine. Sometimes they have some questions. Others just want confirmation that everything's okay.
    We then arrange to call back in 2 weeks and see if they need any further help or support.
  • Maternity Hospital
    Peer supporters go into the maternity hospital and talk to the mums.
    Sometimes we help with latching, but mostly we talk to them and support them.
  • Baby Café
    This is a social group where qualified breastfeeding councillors and peer supporters are on hand for face-to-face support.

Once I was qualified, I volunteered to do the 48 hour calls.

Every Monday I received a list of numbers. The ladies had just had their babies, and were exhausted, but overall they were so very happy! Some loved to talk about their birth experience, others were just happy for someone to talk too.

The support I gave was as simple as directing them to a local baby café group, or just helping to ease any concerns they may have had. For example: Are they feeding enough? Are they getting plenty of wet nappies? and others.

I recently had to give up my role as a peer supporter. I also volunteer my time running a cloth nappy library, so at the moment that - and my family - take priority.

I would totally recommend anyone thinking of becoming a peer supporter to do it! I learnt so much, and once life has settled down again, I am looking forward to going back to it.