To mark the start of National Breastfeeding Awareness Week (NBAW), the Public Health Agency (PHA) hosted a breastfeeding event at Groundwork, Duncairn Gardens, on Monday 20 June. This event highlighted the importance of peer support and breastfeeding support groups operating across Northern Ireland.
Peer support is mother-to-mother support given by women who have breastfed their own children and who, after specialised training, provide support to other women who also breastfeed.
The scheme was set up in recognition of the need to provide community-based support after a mother has left hospital with her newborn, as for most women it can take some time before they feel confident with breastfeeding. Mothers and babies need time to practice while they learn about breastfeeding and it can be very helpful to have the support and encouragement of someone who knows about breastfeeding and babies and is trained to answer questions. For new mothers, this support can make a real difference.
Janet Calvert, Regional Breastfeeding Coordinator at the PHA, said: “All mothers need information and support to be able to make informed choices about how they feed their babies and this should suit their individual needs and be available during pregnancy and after the baby is born. We all have our part to play in helping mothers give their children the best start. Support needs to come from within the health service, Sure Starts, local breastfeeding support groups, peer support volunteers, and of course from friends and family.
“All these initiatives and support from partners and family are vital to help expectant and new mothers stick with breastfeeding. The PHA continues to lead on this issue by working regionally and locally to provide information and support for expectant and new parents.”
Angela Abbate, Breastfeeding Coordinator for Peer Support in the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, said: “I am delighted to be working in partnership with the PHA and community-based volunteers, providing a very valuable resource to help promote and maintain breastfeeding in the community. Peer support is very important to encourage mums to continue to breastfeed for as long as possible. Breastfeeding is the healthiest option for both mother and baby and by deciding to breastfeed, you will be giving your child the best possible start in life.”
For more information on peer support in the Belfast area, please contact Angela Abbate at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 028 9024 2816, ext 546.
Contact the PHA Press Office on 028 9031 1611.
Notes to the editor
Janet Calvert will be available for interview during NBAW. Please phone the PHA Press Office to arrange an interview.
NBAW 2011 runs from 19–25 June.
Caption for photograph:
Pictured at Groundwork, Duncairn Gardens, celebrating breastfeeding peer support services in Northern Ireland are:
Back row - Niamh Quinn, Peer Support in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust; Audrey Moore, CAWT peer support training; Mary Duggan, GOLD Surestart; and Janet Calvert, Regional Breastfeeding Coordinator, PHA. Front row - Peer support mothers and their babies.