mother and child
Hazel Snell, is training with NCT College as a Breastfeeding Counsellor. She lives in Somerset with her husband and their two children.

Tell us a little bit about yourself…

My name is Hazel, I’m married and have two wonderful children. My eldest little boy is 2 and a half and my little girl is 8 months. I live in Somerset with my family.

What are you doing at the moment?

My main job is raising my children which is something I love. I’m also in my second year of training to be a breastfeeding counsellor and I am also a babywearing consultant for a local sling library. My husband and I run our own business and I work 25 hours a week as a health care assistant at our local hospital, but I’m currently on maternity leave until later in the year.

Why have you chosen to train as a BFC?

I initially came across the NCT after researching antenatal classes while I was pregnant with my son. At the time, I was unsure if it would be worth the money- well almost three years on and I would have happily paid three times what I paid, I have made friends for life and we still see each other at least once a week.

Shortly after the birth of my son I realised how passionate I was about supporting women’s health, informed decisions and breastfeeding. It was a natural step to look to incorporate all these things I was passionate about. This is when I came across the NCT College and going from the success from the antenatal class, well I wasn’t going to train with anyone else.

It was really important to me to be able to choose a course that was family friendly. I was unwilling to leave my son to study and this course meant I didn’t have to choose between my family and developing myself.

Tell us a little about breastfeeding counsellors and what they do to support new parents?

Breastfeeding counsellors are person centred, we hold expertise but we are not experts. We can support women from pregnancy until weaning and it is not uncommon to speak with women whose children have grown up and they wish to reflect on their own feeding journey many years on. We support women, husbands, families and communities. A breastfeeding counsellor will support any feeding goal and any feeding method, everyone is welcome to use breastfeeding counsellors.

What do you enjoy most about the course?

Gosh, where to begin. The course has surpassed even the highest standards I had set for it prior to starting. The course has fulfilled every need I have had whether I knew it or not. The course has taken me on a personal journey, there is a lot of self reflection within the course and as a result I feel at peace. Both with myself and every decision I have ever made, the good and the bad.

This is an incredibly liberating way to feel and something I could never have expected as initially I undertook the course to help other people, other mothers. The course material is fascinating; it has given me an enthusiasm to learn, to read, to find out new things. An enthusiasm I didn’t think I had for learning. 

Over the two years on the course you have to attend tutorials with your tutor and other students. I thoroughly look forward to seeing my tutor and the other ladies on the course. They have become friends I feel so fondly of, we regularly keep in contact in between tutorials even if its not related to the course.

What do you find most challenging?

Having two children with an age gap of 20 months does not come without its challenges. Often at times the hardest thing can be feeling overwhelmed. Knowing there are things to do both in my personal life and for the course yet being unable to do either due to poorly children, lack of sleep or on occasions a lack of motivation. My husband often also needs to use the laptop so at times we are wrestling for it, this can be tricky particularly if we both have similar deadlines.

How do you balance study with your other commitments?

My studying happens in the evenings, usually whilst feeding. I have found what works for me is getting on with things as soon as I have a minute and doing them for as long as I can for you never know what is around the corner! With children it’s bound to be an illness of some form. It is incredibly helpful to have such support from my husband, without his support the course wouldn’t have been possible.

Was NCT able to support you with fees?

Yes, which was fantastic. There a number of grants and bursaries available and they enabled me to be able to afford it. Without this I may not have been able to do it. I also was able to pay in monthly instalments which helped a lot. There is also the option to pay in full.

What attracted you first of all to study with NCT?

I was attracted to the NCT due to its impeccable reputation. Its qualifications are highly regarded and its highly respected. To say the NCT and the course is children and family friendly is an understatement. Given that the NCT aims to support parents it only makes sense that this starts within the NCT itself and their training. I started my training when my son was six months old and in between then have also had another baby.

I haven’t needed to have any time out from the course due to how supportive the course tutor and other students have been. The support is incredible.

What are you most looking forward to about starting your new role as a BFC?

I think I’m looking forward to feeling proud of what I have achieved over the last two years. Within the role itself I’m looking forward to being able to use what I’ve learnt to support families.

What would you say to someone applying to study the NCT foundation degree?

Once you’ve made sure the course is the right one for you – go for it! At times it’ll be tough but nothing that’s ever worth having comes easily!

If like Hazel, you're interested in training as a breastfeeding counsellor then you can read more here or contact us with your questions.