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Above: The new breastfeeding volunteers, Kerry Pillai (in the green dress), Katie Partin, Samantha Hopkins, Sarah Berry, Abigail Palmer, Elika Alves da Silva, Suzanne Sullivan, Gemma Allnatt and Karema Kraim.
A new group of volunteers is set to help mums who are starting their breastfeeding journey on Swansea Bay’s postnatal wards.
Peer supporters already work in the community to help women who have chosen to breastfeed their baby. Now they will be working directly with mothers in the health board’s hospitals.
The group of eight women from across Swansea and Neath Port Talbot have all breastfed their own child or children.
In preparation for the role, each mum completed several weeks of National Childbirth Trust peer supporter training, supported by Public Health Wales and Swansea Bay Health Board, and facilitated by NCT counsellor Heidi Orrell.
Now the peer supporters will be a listening ear for women, and offer practical information and ideas to help other mothers breastfeed their babies.
Their support will empower the breastfeeding mothers, and build on the help they receive from health professionals.
Mum of two Abi Palmer decided to become a peer supporter after experiencing difficulty herself while breastfeeding.
Abi said, “I had issues with feeding both my children in the beginning but I didn’t know where to find support.
“My experience always made me want to help other mums and when I saw this opportunity I knew it was something I would love to do.
“I really love volunteering. It’s so nice to make just the slightest bit of difference, and support the midwives on the wards.”
Susan Jose, acting Head of Midwifery, said: “We are proud to welcome this new group of supporters to work alongside our maternity team.
“The value of the support that volunteers like these can give has been proven in numerous studies and we have seen it in our communities previously.
“Now they will be helping mothers in the first few days with their babies to ensure they get the best start at breastfeeding.”
Swansea Bay’s maternity service has also recently been reaccredited under UNICEF’s baby friendly initiative.
This programme seeks to ensure health care staff are enabled to support all mothers with feeding, and help parents build a close and loving relationship with their baby.