Gosport groups give breastfeeding mums the support they need
NEW mums are encouraged to breastfeed their babies in the first few months.
And while for some it comes easily or with few problems, for others it can be a struggle.
The Breastfeeding Network group works with mums to give advice and support to help them with breastfeeding.
This happens through coffee mornings, meet-ups and other group events where the mums can chat, swap information and pick up tips on breastfeeding.
But the network is not just about helping breastfeeding mums. It also trains mothers so they can help others with any problems around breastfeeding.
The Gosport branch of the national group is led by Hana Young. She joined it three years ago and is now the project leader.
She says: ‘We cover ante-natal right up to when the babies stop breastfeeding.
‘We do drop-in sessions every month where the mums can come in and speak to others, sharing their experiences. They get very busy and last year we had around 2,000 women come to us.
‘We are trying to get the word out as much as possible so we can reach as many mums as possible.
‘Being a mum can be isolating so these groups give them the chance to talk to people and be social.
‘It’s about emotional support too – that is one of the biggest things we do.’
The Gosport group caters for mums of all ages and while some are new mums, others already have children.
‘Any mum who’s breastfeeding can come to us,’ Hana adds.
‘Some are mums who have had their first baby and others already have children but have maybe struggled to breastfeed their current baby.
‘Some who come to the groups are so tired and in need of support, they are willing to do anything for their babies.
‘Just being there for them and giving them the support is really important.
‘Having the time to speak to someone is important too. There is no rush and they can stay for the full two hours if they want.’
The last 12 months have been hard for the Gosport Breastfeeding Network group after they lost their funding and had to find new centres to meet in.
But thanks to Santander they got the grants to train 12 new mums to be volunteers and now meet at Square Pegs charity centre, in North Cross Street, Gosport.
Hana says: ‘We were so grateful to Santander for giving us £5,000 so we could run our training course.
‘It gives our 12 volunteers employability, skills and self-confidence.
‘Some of our mums have even become midwives after realising this is something they want to do for a living.’
That is a path that Hana is taking as she goes to university in September to train as a midwife.
She joined the group three years after wanting to do something with her life.
She adds: ‘I really enjoyed breastfeeding my first child and wanted to help others get that enjoyment too.
‘I saw on Facebook some details about doing the training and I decided to give it a go.
‘The course changed my life. It became something that turned me into myself rather than just a mum or a carer.
‘I started off working alongside the health care workers and then I started helping to run the group.
‘In February I was made the project lead and it has been amazing helping these women and seeing them grow in confidence.
‘From September I will be going to university to study to become a midwife.
‘I am really excited to be doing this and it is all because of the networking group.’
The group is always keen to get more mums joining it.
To help boost numbers, it is holding a family fun day at Fort Purbrook on September 3.
Between 10.30am and 4pm there will be donkey rides, fire engines, fun fair rides, crafts, stalls, a bouncy castle and raffle.
It is £5 per family and is raising money for Gosport and Havant Breastfeeding Network groups.
For more information visit breastfeedingnetwork.org.uk/gosport-and-havant