The Volunteers in Derbyshire are all managed by the Breastfeeding Network who train supervise and support their development and the development of breastfeeding groups. For more information about The Breastfeeding Network, go to their website.
The role of the Breastfeeding Volunteer
Breastfeeding Volunteers are mums in the community who can reassure you when breastfeeding is going well, or signpost you to other resources when it isn't. It can be tricky to know if you're doing things right when your breastfed baby doesn't behave how you might expect – the role of the breastfeeding volunteer is to listen to you, and let you know what's normal.
Breastfeeding Volunteers are not healthcare professionals or health visitors – they are mothers who have breastfed, and who have had further training on breastfeeding and how to support breastfeeding families. Volunteers also receive ongoing support, supervision, and further training for however long they choose to support other breastfeeding mums in their community.
Breastfeeding peer support is recognised as an effective way to increase the number of women who choose to breastfeed and to help them to continue breastfeeding for as long as they wish.
It has been found that breastfeeding peer support is highly valued by breastfeeding mothers - in the early days after the birth of their baby, many mums find it really useful to be able to discuss any queries they may have about breastfeeding with a peer supporter.
Our volunteers choose where they wish to provide breastfeeding support: antenatal classes or clinics, breastfeeding drop-in groups, over the phone, or a mixture of all of them.
Their support can be during the daytime, evening or weekend, for as much or as little time as they wish - there is no need to commit to regular timeslots, a number of hours or particular days.
We would greatly welcome any time that women could spare to support breastfeeding mothers in their area, at locations, days and times to suit themselves.
Breastfeeding peer support is enormously valuable, even if it is just for an hour or so here and there on an occasional ad-hoc basis.
What's in it for me?
The training to become a Breastfeeding Volunteer is run by the Breastfeeding Network – a charity which has been supporting parents to make informed choices about infant feeding for twenty years.
The Breastfeeding Network's training page can be found here.
By completing the course you can hope to achieve:
- The knowledge, skills and experience to support other new mums in your community with breastfeeding.
- A nationally recognised, Open College Network accredited qualification.
- Work experience and up-to-date references to apply for a job in the future.
- Opportunity to continue training to become BfN Registered Breastfeeding Supporter.
Training will be free to trainees and may include a crèche facility.
Women choose to volunteer to help other mums breastfeed for a huge number of reasons. Here are some of them:
- Making a positive difference to women and their families
- Using your breastfeeding experience and skills to help others
- Giving someone else the same positive support that you experienced
- Allowing other women to benefit from your knowledge, experience and support
- Gaining new skills and knowledge
- Making new friends and acquaintances
- Doing something different from your paid job
- Having fun
- Keeping busy
- Gaining work experience for a change of career
- Having the opportunity to work alongside other peer support workers and health professionals, including midwives, family support workers and health visitors.
Once you are a Breastfeeding Volunteer, you will be welcomed into your nearest group (for a list of breastfeeding support groups, go here). The Breastfeeding Network will provide the following:
- Access to a small, supportive, knowledgeable Facebook group where you can share triumphs and struggles with other volunteers (breastfeeding related or not!).
- At least eight sessions per year with your Breastfeeding Network supervisor, to discuss recent volunteering experiences and to keep up-to-date.
- Discounts on tickets to Breastfeeding Network study days.
- A Breastfeeding Network t-shirt.
- And most of all, a huge sense of reward when you help mums to breastfeed happily and comfortably according to their goals.