NCT breastfeeding peer supporters in NHS Lothian

We’re delighted to be able to offer breastfeeding peer support in NHS Lothian hospitals, to complement the work of healthcare professionals supporting breastfeeding families.

The need for support

Our Breastfeeding Services Manager – Lothian Breastfeeding Buddies, Zoe Brown explains: “From the start of Lothian Breastfeeding Buddies two years ago, we were warmly welcomed into NHS Lothian.

The community wanted this!

“As part of our project development we met various health care professionals and lots of breastfeeding families. Throughout our discussions in those first few months sharing details of our project we were frequently asked about offering postnatal peer support.

“This was not part of our initial project but the voices of parents, professionals and peers were clear – they wanted this! We couldn’t ignore the voices we were hearing so with the support of Scottish government we started to look into developing a postnatal support service. The pandemic impacted us doing this but did nothing to quell the passion so we persisted.

Delayed by the pandemic

“Volunteer services in NHS Lothian supported and guided us through the procedures needed to gain site management approval and we submitted detailed risk assessments and followed their pathway, hopeful of a start in the new year.

“Once again we felt the sting of the pandemic when the country went back into lockdown. However, we were not to be defeated. Whilst the pandemic continued so did our determination to develop this aspect of the project.

Arriving on the postnatal wards

“We got NHS approval just before the Easter weekend and we were able to start to plan the introduction of breastfeeding peer supporters to the postnatal ward.

Breastfeeding peer supporters attended a briefing to cover correct procedures for putting on and taking off PPE, correct hand washing procedure, data collection and undertaking their role in a Covid-safe way.

“This involved meeting with the Infant Feeding Advisor and the Chief Midwife to plan how we would get the peers on the ward and maintain their safety.

“We also planned a skills update for breastfeeding peer supporters so they could spend some time with a peer support trainer. They could focus their thoughts and attentions on the early hours and days of a breastfeeding journey and hone their listening skills to support the postnatal parent.

A fantastic result

”Now we are delighted to be able to offer breastfeeding peer supporters postnatally in NHS Lothian to complement the work of health care professionals supporting breastfeeding families.

“NCT and NHS Lothian have a fantastic working relationship and we are delighted that this expansion of the project will benefit breastfeeding families and help support parents in the early days of their breastfeeding journey.

“The fact this is happening now, and that it has been developed during the pandemic shows how amazing things can happen when charities and NHS work together.”

Check out the Lothian Breastfeeding Buddies Facebook page to find out about upcoming events including Walk & Talks and drop-in groups.

Our free infant support line is open every day from 8am-midnight, even weekends and bank holidays, for however you are feeding your baby. Call 0300 330 0700. You can also find out how to find breastfeeding support when you need it on our website.

We have lots more articles to support your breastfeeding journey and feeding in the early days.