MUM Amanda Richards says that peer support made all the difference in helping her to successfully breastfeed her children.
Now the 33-year-old from Hyde is volunteering her time to help other new mothers.
She is one of one of 30 Homestart peer support volunteers who, alongside 12 paid staff, work out in the community providing breastfeeding support. From 1 October 2017 Tameside and Oldham councils are jointly commissioining the Homestart contract.
Homestart – which supported 2112 new mums in Tameside last year - first visits on the hospital labour and postnatal wards and then contacts every mum after discharge to offer a home visit. They continue to visit families as long as they need help while also organising support groups. They also provide the feeding part of ante natal parentcraft groups and one-to-one ante-natal support.
Office worker Amanda told how she found the support invaluable when both her children - Ava, six, and 16-month-old Max - were born.
She said: “You think breastfeeding is going to be a breeze but that’s not always the case. When my daughter Ava was born I was struggling with breastfeeding in hospital but the Homestart lady visited me on the ward and was able to make helpful suggestions and gave me her card in case I need more support.
“A day or two later she called me at home just when I needed it. My emotions were all over the place and I broke down in tears – she was there within the hour and really helped me. She continued to call me and be there for me whenever I needed her support.
“Although I found breastfeeding easier with Max there were still some things that I needed information and support with. The Homestart ladies were just so helpful and always seemed to know just the right times to call, like those key times when your new baby is going through a growth spurt and is constantly feeding and you’re wondering what you’re doing wrong.
“They made the world of difference and helped me massively. They helped me to learn feeding positions and also reassured me that I wasn’t doing anything wrong and that what I was experiencing was completely normal. I think I would have given up without their support.”
Amanda was so impressed with the difference the support made that she has since volunteered herself to become a peer supporter. After going through training and shadowing others she is now ready to start working with mums one to one.
“I know what a difference it can make and I would love to be able to help another new mother in the same way that I was helped. I really want to give something back.
“As well as being the best thing for your baby, breastfeeding is an amazing experience and gives you an incredible bond.”
Breastfeeding is the healthiest way to feed babies. Any amount of breastfeeding has a positive effect. The longer mums breastfeed, the longer the protection lasts and the greater the benefits for both mother and baby.
Homestart Infant Feeding Services Manager Denise Farrow said: “Home-Start are proud to offer for the first time ever a joint infant Feeding Peer Support across Tameside and Oldham. We are offering our support to all mums who would like to breast-feed their baby.”Homestart can be contacted seven days a week on 07802 883947 or at their local office on week days on 0161 344 0669 or see https://home-starthost.org.uk/need-home-visiting-support/infant-feeding-support-2/
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