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Breast-feeding advice finds a willing audience of new mums

By Helen Paterson

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Infant feeding adviser Janet Kellock (left) with new mother Lynsey Main and baby Stewart, who is six weeks old.
Infant feeding adviser Janet Kellock (left) with new mother Lynsey Main and baby Stewart, who is six weeks old.

Infant feeding adviser Janet Kellock (left) with new mother Lynsey Main and baby Stewart, who is six weeks old.

AN initiative which sees experienced breast feeders contact new mothers within 48 hours of giving birth has been expanded.

Designed to encourage mothers to breast feed for longer, it has grown from a group of 12 women who signed up to become volunteer supporters in Inverness when the project was launched by NHS Highland a year ago.

It has now developed to include an extra four city groups and five in Nairn and Ardersier with new volunteers undergoing four weeks of training.

"What they do is just text or phone and say, ‘I am here if you need me, this is my name and number’," explained midwife and infant feeding adviser Janet Kellock.

"Breast-feeding can be difficult and sometimes a friendly voice and correct advice is all that is needed to overcome the problem.

"These girls have been through it and sharing their experience with new mums who are maybe going through the same thing is invaluable."

The peer-supporters also attend a breast-feeding support group, which meets weekly in the Spectrum Centre.

Although it is entirely voluntary, Mrs Kellock thinks the initiative is having a positive impact, with the South East Highland Community Health Partnership, which includes Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, performing well against the Scottish average.

The number of mothers exclusively breast-feeding at six to eight weeks in South East Highland is 34 per cent, compared to the Scottish average of 26 per cent.

Raigmore is also accredited as a baby-friendly hospital, recognising its commitment to supporting breast-feeding.

Kaella MacMillan has just signed up to become a peer supporter, having given birth to her first child, Callum, in June.

"I had been planning breast-feeding all along," explained the 28-year-old. "I hadn’t really thought of any other option. When he came along, it was really difficult, he wouldn’t feed and it was difficult to latch him on and I ended up getting mastitis and thrush."

She sought help from the infant feeding advisers and the peer supporters, attending the support group at the Spectrum Centre.

"The infant feeding advisers were really useful, they had lots of tips and showed me how to position him properly," she continued. "I also went along to the support group at the Spectrum Centre and it was really nice to see mums that were further along and it made me think, ‘I can do this, they are still feeding and so can I’."

Mrs MacMillan, of Pinewood Drive, Milton of Leys, heard the initiative was expanding and volunteered.

"I had so many problems with breast feeding and I feel quite passionate about people being able to do it, so I just really wanted to help out. I have been through so much, I felt I had so much to give."

Claire Stirling also decided to sign up as a peer supporter recently.

The 29-year-old, who lives in Wester Inshes, has a 15-month daughter Alena, who she breast-feeds, and is pregnant with her second child.

"I found I had quite good family support, but I wasn’t aware there was an outside service I could have contacted," she said.

"I heard about the training and put in to take part and help if I could. I realised there were lots of people out there that don’t have the family support, which I was fortunate to have."

She describes helping other mothers as "really rewarding" and intends to continue when her second child arrives.

"I am a very strong supporter of breast-feeding," she said. "It will be a bit like practising what I preach and it is good to say I do know how you are feeling because I am in that situation."

Anyone interested in finding out more about breast-feeding should contact their local health visitor or midwife.

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