Our breastfeeding peer support service first started way back in 2004 when our now Chair Of Trustees Elaine Edwards had a difficult start to breastfeeding her daughter Jessica and struggled to get support. She went to a local Sure Start Centre for help and it was there Elaine met other mums who were in the same position.
Together they realised the power of mothers supporting each other and the need for a local support network for mothers to access support easily and be given evidenced based information.
The project began with a grant commissioned to support the Sure Start programme, with a primary purpose of supporting and promoting breastfeeding both antenatal and postnatal within the community of Blackburn with Darwen.
Elaine left her full time employment and became a La Leche League Trainer and local women were recruited and trained to form a team of paid and volunteer peer supporters.
The peer supporters provided weekly support groups within Sure Start centres; 1:1 home visits; 24 hour helpline and daily support on the maternity ward. They worked closely with the local maternity hospital who gave all the peers’ access to the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative training ensuring evidenced based information was being given to mothers.
The impact on breastfeeding rates improving was amazing and the service has expanded to provide breastfeeding support across several areas throughout the country. Our Operations Manager Marie Longworth was one of the first peer supporters to join the service after having her son Ciaran in 2004 and has never looked back. Marie has grown with the service and has been part of its expansion.
Pilot programmes have been delivered alongside longer term contracts and in 2017 FAB remains a preferred supplier for the provision of breastfeeding peer support services to various commissioners.