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London’s only volunteer breastfeeding support programme

27 October 2011

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital is the only Trust in London to have a well-established breastfeeding peer support programme staffed by volunteers.

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital is the only Trust in London to have a well-established breastfeeding peer support programme staffed by volunteers.

The programme has been developed by Charlotte Mackenzie Crooks (Volunteer Services Manager) and Giuseppe Labriola (Specialist Midwife: Infant Feeding Co-ordinator) and ensures that mothers are supported with breastfeeding on the maternity wards.

More than 30 peer supporters, the majority of whom are mothers who have breastfed their children, have received additional training and are available to provide breastfeeding support on the wards, raise public awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding and increase choice by providing access to a range of services across different settings.

Giuseppe Labriola, who is project managing the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Award for the Trust says: "Breastfeeding contributes to the health of mother and child in both the short and long term and provides all the nutrients a baby needs.

"Current UK policy is to promote exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, but research shows that at six months only 26% of babies are breastfed. 90% of British mothers who stopped breastfeeding in the first six months would have liked to have continued for longer which suggests that much more could be done to support them.

"This breastfeeding peer-support programme has therefore been commissioned as part of the breastfeeding strategy at Chelsea and Westminster."

Charlotte Mackenzie Crooks said: "This is a fantastic initiative and I cannot thank the volunteers enough for giving up their time to help our new mothers.

"Our peer supporters are there to help provide advice about breastfeeding to mothers before birth, but primarily they have the time to spend to help mothers who need support after their babies are born.

"With their help we aim to give every new mother the best possible chance to be able to successfully breastfeed."

Photo: Members of the breastfeeding peer support programme including Giuseppe Labriola (Specialist Midwife: Infant Feeding Co-ordinator—far left) and Charlotte Mackenzie Crooks (Volunteer Services Manager—far right)