This month, we’re sharing two stories from our drop-ins in Scotland. Nicola, previously a volunteer Breastfeeding Peer Supporter and now a Team Leader from Glasgow, and Sarah, a mum from Edinburgh, tell us what the scheme has meant for them.
Previously a volunteer Breastfeeding Peer Supporter at one of our drop in Baby Cafés, Nicola has recently started as a Community Team Leader for our Glasgow Breastfeeding Buddies scheme. She explains: “I had my daughter Sloane in 2018 and really struggled with breastfeeding at the beginning. I just couldn’t find a position where I was comfortable and she was able to latch properly.
“Luckily, I had an excellent support system and we managed to struggle on for a bit. Two weeks in, I realised I needed more help and decided to go along to the Baby Café that my health visitor had mentioned. Thank goodness I did, I’m still feeding her now at 26 months, and I have the Baby Café to thank for that!
“The peer supporters and the other parents I met on my journey were such a great source of support, comfort and inspiration. I had always planned on returning as a volunteer myself, and when I saw a local advert recruiting for peers, I jumped at the chance to get involved.
“It was just at the beginning of the Covid crisis and if I’m honest, there was a moment where I wondered if I could handle this on top of the current emotional rollercoaster thrust upon us. I thought back to those first weeks with my own daughter, and really couldn’t comprehend going through all that stress in the midst of a global pandemic.
“I rushed to my phone to apply, unaware that it would lead me to meet some amazing new people, change my career, and start a new role as Community Team Leader for Glasgow Breastfeeding Buddies.”
Mum Sarah says: “I first made contact with the NHS Lothian/NCT Breastfeeding Buddies group when Reuben was just 11 days old. So much had already happened in those early days; Reuben wasn’t gaining weight, we were working hard at breastfeeding, at times it had been painful. We were exhausted, I felt discouraged and ready to give up.
We were exhausted, I felt discouraged and ready to give up
“It was hard being isolated from my usual support network of family and friends due to Covid-19, and it was difficult to get a health professional to visit the house for face-to-face breastfeeding help.
“The Breastfeeding Buddies group was so encouraging, they helped me to keep going by giving me one-to-one support that day and regularly over that weekend, as well as before and after health visitor appointments when I was anxious about Reuben’s weight.
A support network
“The peers were always gentle and understanding when I was fragile and we could share some laughter and I was able to have a good ol’ cry (which we all need sometimes).
“My husband started to encourage me to attend the peer support groups because he noticed I was more relaxed and at ease after them. He wanted to help me on my breastfeeding journey so enabled me to make this time for myself. We all reaped the benefits.
“When I had Reuben I thought the choice was between breast or bottle feeding him…this was false. We have been combination feeding successfully from very early on. Sometimes I have felt isolated by this, like I’m in no-man’s-land, with friends on each side trying to pursuade me of their point of view but no-one in the middle with me.
“Not the peers, they accepted me where I was on my journey whilst giving breastmilk in any form; from breast, bottle or mixed with formula.
“So here I am…still breastfeeding at 4 months and looking forward to keeping going…I never thought this would be possible back on day 11! Thank you Breastfeeding Peer Supporters.”
NCT runs a variety of services offering breastfeeding support for mums. These include groups run by trained breastfeeding peer supporters and drop-ins run by our branches and facilitated by NCT breastfeeding counsellor, Baby Cafés which are run by skilled facilitators such as midwives, health visitors and lactation consultants or NCT breastfeeding counsellors.