Do you know that babies that are breastfed have fewer ear and chest infections, are less likely to develop asthma and eczema, and have a lower likelihood of becoming obese and diabetic later in life?

This week is National Breastfeeding Week (which runs until 23rd June) – a time during which new and expectant mothers are being encouraged to find out about the benefits of breastfeeding.

Durham County Council are working with a number of partners, including the Growing Healthy County Durham Infant Feeding Team, to encourage breastfeeding provision across the county, celebrate breastfeeding mums and raise awareness of the county’s breastfeeding peer supporters.

Breastfeeding peer supporters are local mums who have been trained to support other mothers. They help mums and babies to enjoy breastfeeding and offer guidance and reassurance.

The peer supporters volunteer in a number of environments such as at antenatal classes, at clinics, on post-natal wards and in County Durham’s breastfeeding cafés. Breastfeeding cafés are venues that offer mums information, moral support and like-minded company in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere.

Durham County Council’s cabinet member for children’s and young people’s services, Cllr Olwyn Gunn, said, “It’s never too early to start thinking about how you’re going to feed your baby.”

“Breastfeeding has a number of health benefits for both mother and baby, including building strong emotional bonds, protecting babies from infections and diseases, and lowering mothers’ risks of some cancers and health conditions.”

“County Durham’s fantastic volunteer peer supporters and our brilliant breastfeeding cafés are a great way to help mothers to breastfeed successfully, supporting them to overcome any potential barriers, build their confidence and make friends.”

Leah Johnson, a 28-year-old mother of three, became a breastfeeding peer supporter after visiting a breastfeeding café with her child.

Leah said, “I went to the café for social reasons as well as breastfeeding support. I made some wonderful friends who were all in the same boat and I really appreciated that.”

“I remember the lady who sat with me for an hour when my first was born and how she made me feel. She was compassionate and she gave her time to help me. I was overwhelmed by her kindness.”

“I wanted to be that person for someone else and make them feel as supported and cared for as I was.”

“Normalising breastfeeding is so important and what better way to get the message out than by getting people who are actually breastfeeding or have breastfed to come alongside these women and say ‘you can do this’.”

“I’ve learnt so much since becoming a peer supporter and I feel like it’s been good for me.”

To learn more about the advantages of breastfeeding – and to see a list of County Durham’s breastfeeding cafés – please go to http://www.durham.gov.uk/breastfeeding.

If you are interested in becoming a breastfeeding peer supporter, please telephone Jessica Young on 03000 269 585.

(The featured image shows Fiona Malyan Jacques, specialist infant feeding health visitor (Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust) (red top); Leah Johnson, peer supporter (purple top); and Jessica Young, specialist infant feeding practitioner (Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust) (black top).)


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