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19 June 2017

Boost for Grampian families with 60 Breastfeeding Peer Supporters


Scottish Breastfeeding Week 2017 

An initiative to increase support for mums and babies across the region has been launched by NHS Grampian.
The move, coinciding with the start of Scottish Breastfeeding Week (19-25 June), will see mums who already breastfeed or are considering it signposted to a range of ways to get breastfeeding support including trained peer supporters who will offer friendly personal advice and practical help with breastfeeding.
Around 60 volunteers from across Grampian who have experience of breastfeeding have now been trained up as peer supporters to provide guidance pregnant women and those who have started breastfeeding. In order to make the service as accessible and timely as possible, mums can chat with a peer supporter in Aberdeen Maternity Hospital or Dr Gray's Hospital, over the phone, in a venue of their choice, or at their local breastfeeding group.

Katie Rose, a peer supporter for the Garthdee Breastfeeding Group, said: "When I had my first child I really benefited from breastfeeding support groups, so when the opportunity to become a peer supporter came up I was really keen to enable other people to have that same positive experience. I made a great group of friends I still have today, plus it's good to know other mums are facing the same challenges as you. The more people who become peer supporters the wider the network of support available to mums."
Local mum Anja Leman, who attends the Garthdee Group, said: "Katie is great and a real support, my baby has come on leaps and bounds since we started coming here. I had lots of questions when I first spoke to her because the pressures of having a baby can be overwhelming. But it's great to know there is always someone you can speak too or even just send a quick message and meet up for a chat."
Recent research carried out with mums in Grampian found that many were not aware of the full range of support available to them, and felt they needed more help particularly just after their baby has been born.
Over the last three years 36.9% of babies in Aberdeen City were exclusively breastfed at 6-8 weeks, 34.7% in Aberdeenshire and 30.9% in Moray. Although higher than the Scottish average of 27.5%, the Grampian target is to reach 46% by 2021.
Linda Smith, Lead for Public Health and Wellbeing in Aberdeen City's Health & Social Care Partnership said: "We are delighted to have 60 volunteers now working across Grampian to provide this support to mums. Our breastfeeding rates are better than the Scottish average and we would like to see them continue. More women breastfeeding their baby helps to make it normal for everyone in society and in turn helps to support a woman's choice and confidence to breastfeed their baby."
Jenny McNicol, NHS Grampian's Chief Midwife said: "We are continuously reviewing how we support mums to breastfeed for longer.  This is a great initiative and I want to give a huge thanks to all the peer supporters for all the support that they are giving women."
In addition to peer supporters, a comprehensive guide highlighting all NHS Grampian breastfeeding support available to mums has been created and is available in leaflet form from your midwife or online at www.nhsgrampian.org/breastfeeding. Information on local and national services and how to access them can also be found on Facebook under Breastfeeding Grampian (www.facebook.com/Breastfeed.Grampian).
The latest development to services follows a push by NHS Grampian and Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership to get more businesses behind a scheme to support breastfeeding.  Since it launched in October last year, more than 130 cafes, restaurants, shops and community venues in Aberdeen City and beyond have signed up to the Breastfeeding Welcome Scheme (BFWS) and are displaying the BFWS sticker on their premises, letting mothers know they are welcome to feed their babies there. Women can breastfeed anywhere, but wherever they see the sticker they can be assured that the business will be welcoming and supportive.