Launching a new peer support group

Suzi (pictured with LO), Shelley and George found great motivation and perseverance to launch a new Breastfeeding group within RNAS Culdrose Community Centre, Helston. Breast Intentions Breastfeeding Support Group is running as a supported group under RNAS Culdrose in partnership with Real Baby Milk.  We asked them how they went about it.

What made you want to start a Breastfeeding Support group at RNAS Culdrose Community Centre?
Having struggled to establish a good or any latch with both my babies I knew only too well the need for support. I got lucky with a fabulous midwife with my first  and second time around I stayed in hospital an extra night to get feeding established. Helen Shanahan was on duty to help and with caring and patient support breastfeeding was established and I have had a straightforward journey. I was well aware of the benefits reducing postnatal depression, bonding, great source of antibodies for my baby not forgetting getting to sit down for lovely cuddles. But to get to this point often needs support and encouragement. Military wives and personnel very rarely have families near and miss out on much needed support . This made me think of the great need within our community and how a breastfeeding group could really help.

Helston found itself without the vital support network for breastfeeding last summer. We felt it was crucial to get something back up and running and even more so for the military community. Military wives are often found switching from joint parenting to solo parenting and have even been known to give birth while the Dad is deployed. It’s so important that these mums don’t feel like they are on their own and get the support they and their babies need.

How did you go about setting it up?
We got chatting to a lady from the chaplaincy team about breastfeeding support and the mental wellbeing of new mums linked to Culdrose. She helped us to get the initial setup of the group and was able to get the relevant people involved and onboard with the idea.

Did you face any challenges? Overcome any hurdles?
Setting up anything from scratch is always going to be a challenge. Both Real Baby Milk and Culdrose offered support, it also had regulations we needed to meet. The hardest challenge was getting it all to join up.
We faced many challenges! Mostly red tape.
Our biggest hurdle was being told 15 minutes prior to the launch that we were not allowed to run, thankfully, we were able to get the Community Centre staff to supervise the group to ensure everything ran smoothly and we would be covered for insurance purposes.

How is the group going now it has started?
We have been delighted with the uptake of the new group. We are getting regular mums coming each week and it is wonderful watching ladies support each other. The room is never silent, it is always full of chatter and children. The tea is served hot (away from babies and toddlers) always with a slice of cake. Other ladies pop in when they feel they need some extra support.
During the short time our group has been going we have had two ladies attend with bumps and now babies. It’s wonderful to watch the group grow.  We have all been blown away by the success of the group. It is a happy, positive supportive group and usually has between 10 and 17 mums coming along plus volunteers.  We also have more mums coming forward wanting to volunteer and help out.

If you were to do it again would you do anything different?
Get all military paperwork signed off as soon as possible and not rush to get the group launched!

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