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Volunteers support new mothers with breastfeeding

Over 40 volunteers answered an appeal for ‘breastfeeding friends’ in Worcestershire’s maternity wards.

Infant feeding leads at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust invited people who wanted to support women who are breastfeeding, to a meet and greet session in November.

Since then 44 volunteers, including breastfeeding mothers and aspiring midwives, have completed their breastfeeding support training, and are now out and about in the Alexandra and Worcestershire Royal hospitals’ postnatal wards.

Breastfeeding is the best option for new mums and their babies. It can reduce the risk of childhood infections, sudden infant death, obesity, diabetes and breast cancer.

In Worcestershire, 73 per cent of mothers start breastfeeding straight away, slightly below the national average of 80 per cent. And after the first six weeks, this drops to 44 per cent. This is where the trust’s breastfeeding friends come in.

Becky Davenport, Infant Feeding Lead said “Having volunteers on the wards provides new mothers with another level of breastfeeding support that compliments midwifery support and advice. They are a welcome addition to on our postnatal wards.”

Verity Worthington, from Kidderminster, had baby Freddie Worthington-Phillips at Worcestershire Royal Hospital. She said “I have been so grateful for the support I've received breastfeeding my now 10 week old baby. In the first weeks I was so glad that I had a number to call and lovely support on hand. The volunteers and midwives all do brilliant work, thank you on behalf of our little ones who benefit so much from it!”

Aspiring midwives Jennie Roehrig and Rachel O’Shea have both just completed their breastfeeding support training.

Jennie, who hopes to begin her midwifery training next year, said “I am thrilled and very proud to be a part of this. Even if I could only help just one mum and her baby with establishing effective feeding, it's more than worth it and can really make a difference.

“I'm equally happy to be able to support our incredible midwifery team, thanks to the amazing training given by the infant feeding team and their infectious enthusiasm.”

Rachel says her experience training to be a volunteer has immensely prepared her for life on the ward. She said “I’ve volunteered on a couple of shifts so far and the rewards are amazing. This experience has only further confirmed my career choice.”