New mums to be given breastfeeding support in £32,000 scheme


New mums in Stoke-on-Trent will be offered help with breastfeeding through a new £32,000 peer support programme.

Fourteen volunteers have been trained up as breastfeeding helpers, who will be able to provide practical and emotional support to mothers and their babies in one-to-one sessions.

The training has been provided by the national Breastfeeding Network, which is teaming up with Stoke-on-Trent City Council on the scheme.

It is being funded by a £16,000 grant from the Maternity Transformation Programme, which has been match funded by the city council.

Initially, peer support will be offered virtually over Zoom, due to coronavirus restrictions, but the aim is to launch face-to-face group sessions when it is safe to do so.

Organisers hope that the programme will result in an increase in breastfeeding rates in Stoke-on-Trent.

Breastfeeding helper Sabryna Porter believes that mums who have already been through the experience are in a great position to help others.

She said: “I know personally the challenges of breastfeeding and I received incredible support at a breastfeeding group back in 2011. New mums are really vulnerable and need time and space to speak about their experiences and needs. I took this opportunity to become a breastfeeding helper because I want to be able to help other mums meet their breastfeeding goals – I know that without the peer support I received, I wouldn’t have met mine.

“We’re a really friendly, approachable group and we’re all passionate about supporting mums and babies. Our main aim is to ensure mums have access to evidence-based information and have a space where they can share their experiences and listen to other mums’ journeys. We want all mums and their babies to be welcomed into a warm and inclusive space where they are comfortable to ask for support.”

A similar scheme has been running in Sandwell since 2010, and has supported more than 6,000 mums in that time. Breastfeeding initiation rates in the borough have increased from 56 per cent to 75 per cent.

Councillor Lorraine Beardmore, cabinet member for leisure, culture and public health at the city council said: “It has been brilliant to establish such a great partnership with The Breastfeeding Network and to be able to invest in a scheme that will benefit new mums and babies in Stoke-on-Trent.

“Having a baby is such a wonderful thing, but it can also be daunting and isolating, and I know first-hand that breastfeeding can be challenging, without the added issues everyone has faced over the pandemic. This new programme will support mums both practically and emotionally in a safe environment, and they’ll be able to connect with the programme volunteers who have been through breastfeeding themselves and have completed intensive training. Having someone who can fully understand your struggles, can talk through them with you and offer advice is invaluable.”



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Nina White, programme manager at The Breastfeeding Network, added: “We are looking forward to building on the work of the Breasts and the City group and have trained 14 new breastfeeding peer support volunteers who will initially be running virtual drop in groups and then go on to set up new physical breastfeeding groups and support more local families. We have also recruited a volunteer coordinator, and are building relationships and partnerships with organisations and groups across Stoke.”

Sessions will take place via Zoom on Mondays and Fridays between 10am and 11am. For more information and to book a place, email stoke@breastfeedingnetwork.org.uk or message the group’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BreastfeedingNetworkStoke





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