A peer supporter is a mother with experience of breastfeeding who is able to support other local mothers.
Peer supporters undergo a short training course and can work in a variety of settings in the role of a supportive, experienced and knowledgeable friend.
The training is Open College Network (OCN) accredited at level 2 with 3 credits. The training covers areas including basic listening skills, boundaries to the role and where to refer mothers with more complicated problems. The peer supporter is then able to support mothers in their journey into parenting and/or breastfeeding (depending on the specific training that she has received).
All potential trainee supporters must be motivated, approachable and tolerant. Anyone considering breastfeeding peer support training needs to have had breastfed their own baby for at least three months.
Our beliefs about peer support are that it should value the experiences of individuals, provide good listening, be mother-centred rather than solving problems and offer appropriate information where needed but not advice. It offers largely psychosocial support so complements the help offered by health professionals. The presence of a peer support scheme can bring about cultural change.
Breastfeeding counsellors who have received further training run peer support courses around the country. These are either commissioned by CCGs, local authorities, or children’s centres. In some instances NCT branches have applied for funding in order to pay for the training in their areas.
If you are interested in training as a peer supporter the first thing to do is to find out if there is anything going on in your area. Talk to the local breastfeeding counsellor, or the local NHS breastfeeding coordinator or health staff at your local children’s centre. Would your local branch be interested in finding out more?
Following these initial investigations please contact email@example.com for further information.