We have just had World Breastfeeding Week and this year it was aiming to provide new mothers with a network of support during that critical period after the birth of a new baby. The time after a newborn enters a home is joy filled but can be exhausting and isolating too. Even those new mothers who start out on the right road with breastfeeding can find themselves giving up, particularly if there are issues, such as a baby who won’t take. Research has shown that there is often a decline in breastfeeding rates and practices – especially exclusive breastfeeding – in the months or weeks after the baby is born.
In order to try and combat this, World Breastfeeding Week 2013 was promoting the idea of peer counselling during this time. Whilst essential support for new mothers might once have been provided by family and close knit communities, in many situations that layer of help simply isn’t there anymore and that’s where peer counselling can step in to fill that support gap. This type of counselling can be provided by anyone from community leaders to trained health workers, other mothers or even fathers or partners. Once trained, Peer Counsellors can become an essential resource for new mothers, answering questions, queries and helping soothe and panic about breastfeeding practices and rates. Medical professionals feel that “The key to best breastfeeding practices is continued day-to-day support for the breastfeeding mother within her home and community.”
One of the advantages of the Peer Counsellor is that anyone from the community can do it, regardless of history or educational background. It’s an enormously cost effective way to introduce that essential level of support to help mothers and also benefit future generations. The idea of World Breastfeeding Week this year is to draw attention to this fantastic resource that can be made available to mothers in every single community and to help gather support and momentum to expand existing peer support programmes. Breastfeeding has immediate benefits for babies and can also be instrumental in long term development, so this is a fantastic way to help ensure that our kids grow up healthy and strong.
Details of World Breastfeeding Week can be found here http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/ but for a more local support website take a look at Heart of England’s site at http://www.youplusbaby.co.uk/feeding-your-baby