New mothers in Shetland will soon be able to benefit from breastfeeding support thanks to a new initiative from the Breastfeeding Network (BfN) in conjunction with NHS Shetland.
The BfN is a UK-wide charity which runs breastfeeding drop-in centres across the country and a national helpline, and offers mother-to-mother support before and after birth.
It is joining forces with NHS Shetland to train volunteers to give support and advice to new mothers in the isles.
Tutor Mary Kennedy will be in Shetland soon to recruit volunteers. She has trained helpers in Midlothian and Dunoon where she works for NHS Highland as a health visitor.
She said: “Most mums-to-be say they want to give breastfeeding a go, because they are aware of the benefits it will give their baby and themselves – and increasingly they and their partners understand the dangers to their baby of not breastfeeding.
“Although NHS guidelines are that babies are best exclusively breastfed for their first six months, many women stop breastfeeding after just a few weeks – often because they’ve lacked the support to help them through the early stages once the midwives stop visiting, which can be pretty challenging even for mothers who are highly motivated.
“Mothers may be thinking about breastfeeding and want a bit of help to make up their minds. Coming to one of our drop-in groups, while they are pregnant, can help them see what it is really like and they get the chance to ask other mums the big questions that have been bothering them.
“Once they have started feeding their babies they come to the groups for the chat and the company and to ask about all sorts of issues including expressing milk, going back to work, starting other food etc. The groups are great places to make friends and get involved in your local community.
“As well as reducing the risks of babies getting gut and respiratory infections, obesity and some childhood allergies and cancers, breastfeeding lowers the risk of mums getting breast and ovarian cancer.”
NHS Shetland consultant midwife Kate Kenmure said: “We are very excited about this project and are keen to build on the great success we have here in Shetland supporting women in their choice to breastfeed. We feel that there is a lot of experience out there and want to develop those skills to help new mums breastfeed their babies for as long as they want to.”
The maternity unit will be holding two open days. Anyone who is interested in meeting Kate and Mary is welcome to come along on Sunday 8th August from 2-4pm and Tuesday 11th August from 7-9pm.
All helpers who complete the course will receive an Open College Network Level 2 award.
For more information Kate Kenmure can be contacted at the Gilbert Bain on (01595) 743012 or by email at email@example.com. Mary Kennedy is available on 07500 822 856.
Information, advice and support is also available on the National Breastfeeding helpline, on 0300 100 0212 or at www.breastfeedingnetwork.org.uk/default