Celebrating and supporting breastfeeding in Cumbria and Sierra Leone

Specialist Breast Feeding Health Visitors from Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) are promoting National Breastfeeding Celebration Week with a range of activities.

Fiona Sim and Diane Clark, Specialist Breast Feeding Health Visitors from CPFT will be launching specialist breastfeeding training to Trust staff, promoting breast feeding support groups and hosting a fundraising event to support breastfeeding to mums on the other side of the world. They hope that by raising awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding mums who are able to will choose to breastfeed their babies.

Fiona explained how giving training to Trust staff who work with mothers will help increase the numbers of mums who choose to breastfeed: “Diane and I have recently been appointed as Specialist Breast Feeding Health Visitors for the Trust and will be taking lead on implementing a Trust breastfeeding policy and training to staff. The training explores how to support breastfeeding mothers to continue to breastfeed for as long as they want.

“The importance of the mother/baby/father relationship is woven throughout the course and effective communication strategies are also explored to ensure there is a more mother-centred approach to care.”

A celebration picnic has also been organised in partnership with Penrith Breastfeeding peer support group.

Rachel Bolson, Breastfeeding support volunteer from Penrith said: “After having my youngest baby, myself and some other mums noticed that there wasn’t as much support as we wanted with breastfeeding in Penrith so decided to see what we could do.

We got in touch with Helen Ferris (Infant Feeding Coordinator from North Cumbria Acute Hospital) who trained us all up and since then we started the support group in Penrith which has gone from strength to strength. It’s a really social environment and is great for mums to share their advice and offer support. The group is open to all and it’s been amazing to have been involved with success stories and see all the positive outcomes.”

Diane said: “Breastfeeding has many benefits and can help lower the risk of obesity, Type 1 and 2 diabetes, allergies plus helping in reducing infections, sudden infant death and cancers. We are encouraging mums and expectant mums to come along to the picnic to find out more about breastfeeding and offer advice and support to those who want it.”

The picnic is taking place on Sunday 26th June at Castle Park, Penrith from 11am – 1pm and the breastfeeding support group runs every Tuesday at Penrith Leisure Centre from 1-3pm and has input from health professionals Fiona Sim and Kate Cummings.

Helen Ferris, Infant Feeding Coordinator from North Cumbria Acute Hospital delivered training to the support group said: “Breastfeeding gives babies the best possible start in life and also has many health benefits for mothers, but it can be difficult without proper support. Volunteer peer supporters are women who have breastfed their own babies and know how hard it can be, but also how rewarding it is therefore they can offer invaluable help to breastfeeding mums.”

Diane and Fiona are also hosting a fundraising event to support breastfeeding in Sierra Leone jointly with Kate Cummings, Community Midwife from North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust. Kate volunteers each year in a maternity unit in Sierra Leone and helps share her expertise to achieve the best health outcomes for babies in the unit. The event is being held at Penrith Hospital on the 21st June at 7:30pm.

The celebration week is running from the 18th– 27th June as part of a national campaign for mothers, breastfeeding supporters and health professionals to come together and share what works well to support breastfeeding in local communities.