e-newseltter for Cornwall Real Baby Milk Peer Supporters
February 2016

February 2016

Cornwall Peer Support Newsletter

Above: the most recent Community Peer Support course, being delivered in Launceston - these volunteers will complete their training mid March

Please make sure to read anything headed with  as this is very important or time sensitive information.

Breastfeeding aprons

Feeding out and about...

By Lesley Ibbotson, Peer Supporter (Hospital) and BF Counsellor (NCT)
As Peer Supporters, we know that mums often express anxiety about feeding out and about. That can mean that they avoid going out with their new baby or might not even consider breastfeeding at all, because of their concerns. Therefore, anything we can do to lessen the fears of mums about this will be positive - at the end of this article there is a link to our current Breastfeeding Friendly Businesses and Places, be sure to click on this and let us know of any others you know of and who you think might like to sign up for the scheme.

Maybe you are also aware of some mums using (breast)feeding 'aprons' or 'nursing' covers - they can be in the form of a large scarf, poncho or more like an apron with tapes going around the neck and a slightly stiffened section, to enable the mum and baby to continue to have eye contact. They vary in fabric type and weight and price (£12-42) and some market themselves with rather controversial names.

So when I saw a mum using one of the apron-types out and about I was interested to talk to her about how she came about choosing one and her thoughts around their use.

Luckily for me, this mum was happy to chat to me about it.

This mum's baby girl was 8 months old and she was with her partner at the time in a street cafe.

Firstly, I asked her when she first got one of the aprons - she had been given hers very early after the birth and found it 'useful' when, what she described as, "learning to breastfeed".

When I asked her when she used the apron, she said that she was normally confident about feeding out and about but occasionally she used it when she was "in a place where she wasn't sure if there would be any hassle about feeding" - we were in a street cafe at the time-  and that it just avoided her worrying about other people's reactions to her breastfeeding.

I asked her when/what was most useful about the apron. This mum said that apart from when she was just learning to feed (and we all know that feeling of trying to avoid a 'nipple moment') she had also found the apron useful when her little girl was starting to be 'nosey', interested in what was going on around her during feeds, and the apron was a way of lessening distractions.

She said that she thought that her little girl now preferred for her not to use the apron and it was now only occasionally that she did use it.

She did like the ability for her to have eye contact with her little girl and the model she was using had the stiffened area around the mum's neck, so she could look down at her baby (and see how the baby was positioned and attached).

What surprised me about this little 'interview' with this mum, was how confident generally about feeding she was - I was sort of expecting to hear that she had real concerns about people noticing that she was feeding and this was not true of this mum at all. Realising that this mum, although confident about breastfeeding, still found the apron useful at times got me thinking about how I made assumptions about her and her reasons for using one and how, as a Peer Supporter, I should try to avoid doing this!

We are always interested in hearing what Peer Supporters think about things, so if you have had any experience with using one, or have chatted to mums using them,  we would be interested to hear from you.

Click here for the latest Breastfeeding Friendly Places.

Starting a breastfeeding group

A volunteer's reflection

Interview with Lucy Probert (Helston)
What made you decide to train as a Peer Supporter?
When I had my baby, my local group had closed, which forced me to seek advice regarding positioning and attachment from my local maternity support worker. The advice and help I received was invaluable and definitely the only reason I worked through the problems I was experiencing, rather than giving up. However, the area's support worker was very busy and covered several localities across West Cornwall - I felt sympathetic that she was soley responsible for providing support to so many women who needed it and it really motivated me to train as a Peer Supporter and get the group up and running again so that more women could receive vital feeding support. I wanted to be able to offer the same brilliant service that I received and help other women in my situation.

Why did you want to restart a group that had closed?
I felt that not having a breastfeeding group was a huge disservice to all the young and new mothers the area contains. I wanted to ensure that mothers like myself, who become parents without the support of their families (who often live several hundred miles away) had a service they could turn to for help and support. From first-hand experience, I know how lonely it can be becoming a mother, especially without you mum or sister or aunt to pop round and help you learn how to breastfeed, or provide other such support as company, cleaning or cooking. Learning a new skill, such as breastfeeding, can seem like an uphill struggle when you are already trying to live life completely independantly and without support. I some situations, when the Father is not present due to operational deployment, new mums can feel so overwhelmed trying to keep on top of everything. Relaunching the breastfeeding group would not only provide mothers with the practical support they need to feed their babies, but would also provide a family environment where mums can make friends, chat with like minded people and form support networks.

What things made it hard for you to train, if any?
For me, fitting in my Peer Support training was not easy. The first time I was accepted onto the course, I was unable to attend as my husband was deployed and I was struggling with my son's outgoing nature and need to be constantly occupied. However, I was lucky enough to be offered a place on a subsequent training course, which required less travelling and coincided with my son's childcare. These two factors gave me the confidence to juggle life so that I could attend the course.

Can you explain how the group was relaunched and your role within the group?
Unfortunately, due to the heavy demands on the Children's Centre manager, in the end the group was relaunched because myself and another volunteer turned up to the centre one Monday with cake and good intentions. A few days prior to the relaunch, we set up a Facebook page and spread the word. Only two mums came, both previous volunteers, but we felt it was a success because at least someone turned up! From there, with further advertising on Facebook and the support of the health visiting team, the group has grown. We have a few regular ladies, excellent support from the health visiting team and we also offer support through the private messaging function on the Facebook page. We have successfully engaged with a few pregnant women, who definitely agree that meeting us prior to giving birth enables them to gather useful information and feel more confident coming to the group post-partum. We also regularly post informative articles and resources in the Facebook page, which helps to keep our presence at the forefront of people's minds. I would describe my role in the group as fluid: first and foremost I am a Peer Supporter, and offer support to breastfeeding women and their families. But I am also responsible for everything else, from setting up toys, making tea and coffee, completing administration tasks and liaising with the Children's centre. I try to respond to the group's needs and complete any tasks that come up promptly. This enables myself and the other volunteer, to keep providing peer support to women who need it. We both share the responsibilities for the group equally; we both work hard to deal with anything that comes up and keep the group running as smoothly as possible.

Can you explain anything that made the relaunch tricky?
For me, relaunching the group was like really putting myself out there. It was down to getting things up and running on our own, as the Children's Centre were unable to provide much support due to staffing constrainsts. There was also a delay due to a DBS technical error with the system. Another thing that made the relaunch tricky was effective advertising - in the end, we paid for our Facebook page to be advertised more extensively, which really helped spread the word that the group was running again. Another hurdle we faced was the responsibility of just us running the group. We are the only volunteers, I feel it's really important that users of the group feel we have a strong presence and that we are invested in making the group successful. However, we could really benefit from more volunteers for when the group is really busy and so that when the other peer supporter is at work, I have someone to share the workload. Luckily, two previous volunteers are in the middle of update training and DBS checks, so soon we should be able to put them on the rota.

Do you feel anything has helped you achieve the relaunch?
Real Baby Milk was invaluable in helping with the relaunch of the group. They organised linking us up with the Health Visiting team, chased up queries with the Children's centre and sourced some valuable resources for us to use at the group. The Peer Support Coordinator was also available to give myself a huge confidence boost before the group relaunched, as I was feeling anxious about the low number of volunteers and my lack of experience (compared to my fellow group Peer Supporter, who has 6 whopping years of experience!).

On reflection, would you do anything differently?
I would definitely try and maximise advertising of the group before relaunch, if I did things a second time round. Our second week was busy, because lots of mums mentioned they didn't know we had relaunched the previous week. Next time, I would try to put up posters at the doctors surgery, the health centre, the birthing unit, and Treliske to try to push new mums to come to the group. I also think the group would benefit from having a peer support presence at antenatal classes, however currently this isn't something we have the resources to commit to. Finally, at some point I would like to gather mums opinions on the time of the group, 10-12, sometimes I wonder if it's just a bit too early for new mums, who are usually sleep-deprived and who possibly don't come regularly because the thought of being up and dressed and walking to the group by 10am is just a bit too much. I wonder if 1-3pm might be a better time for the group.

Do you feel the group is sustainable? Do you feel you have a good support team?
I cannot fault the support from Real Baby Milk - it is strong and continuous. The Health Visiting team have also been wonderful and I feel we have built a strong connection with them; we're enjoying having them and I think they enjoy coming. The support from the Children's centre has only been reasonable - unfortunately they seem a bit disorganised and the manager is clearly very overstretched across several localities. We've had two meetings cancelled now due to the manager not being able to attend at the last minute, this is definitely an area I feel needs to be expanded upon in the future. We would really like the group to be more busy and be able to offer more to it's members in the future, we'd really like to expand but will need more support and volunteers to do this.

Save the date!

Cornwall Conference: 25th September 2016.
We will be taking bookings for the conference in March 2016, and we are pleased to announce that our key speaker will be
Naomi Stadlen of What Mothers Do and How Mothers Love (click here for previous events she has talked at).

Our venue will be St Erme Community Centre, just of the A30, near Indian Queens.


An example breastfeeding apron

Read the article on feeding out and about opposite.

Is your safeguarding training up to date?

It is desirable that volunteers are offered and are able to attend face to face safeguarding training. Face to face training provides an opportunity to explore issues as they arise in a supportive and confidential environment. We do appreciate that attending face to face training might not always be possible, and because of this an online option has been made accessible.


For volunteers who have been identified as requiring an update, both options should be available. If there is no option to attend face to face or it is not suitable, then an e-learning opportunity should be set up by the volunteers Children Centre manager.

How it works:The volunteer, Children’s Centre or Real Baby Milk identifies the need for training. If the volunteer is unable to attend to........ read more


Win a Ready Steady Eat DVD!

We have one copy to give away - normal RRP is £9.95

The winner will be chosen from people who correctly answer the question: what are the three signs of readiness for solid foods?

To enter email your answer to with "Cornwall DVD Competition" as the subject. 
Closing Date is 2nd March 2016.


Focus on Thrush

Follow this link to Audio Boom to listen to an interview with Helen Shanahan and Stephanie Heard, Cornwall Infant Feeding Leads. Some interesting information on Peer Supporting a mum with symptoms of thrush. We would love to have some ideas of other interviews to produce for the newsletter, so please let us know.


Congratulations to the next group of Hospital Peer Supporter who completed their Hospital Peer Support Training

 The new hospital Peer Supporters will be completing their first few sessions on the Post Natal Ward with a buddy for extra support.  The next Hospital Peer Support Training for volunteers wishing to support at Royal Cornwall Hospital, Treliske, will be in the Autumn 2016.           read more

Reading the newsletter can count towards your Peer Supporter updates!

Please could Peer Supporters who wish reading the newsletter to count as part of their skills and knowledge update email with the subject heading SKILLS UPDATE.

Have you joined the closed Facebook Group?

This is a chance for you to connect and share experiences with Peer Supporters across Cornwall.

Find the Facebook Group here and click "Join Group"


Penrice Closure


The Penrice support group that was running on Fridays, closed on the 8th January 2016.

The current volunteers have gone above and beyond their duty to maintain a service, but the sad reality is that the group is no longer sustainable.

This does not mean that there won't be a Penrice group at some point in the future, but before this can happened considerable time needs to be spent looking at what is needed by parents, and what can be actually be provided by a service that operates from the community hospital there.

We would very much like to thank the volunteers, who have given so much of their expertise, time, love and dedication to the group.


Do you have a story you would like to share?  A challenge or a success within your group?

Please email Mary or Hanna if you would like to feature in the next newsletter


Mary Gosling
(Project Manager & Admin)

Hanna Holcroft
(Peer Support Coordinator)
07462 990 485

RBM Office 
01872 260429

We are on Facebook, please visit our Real Baby Milk page or request to be added to the private Cornwall Peer Supporters Group by emailing
If you would like to be removed from this list please click unsubscribe
Copyright © 2016 Pollenn CIC All rights reserved.
Real Baby Milk a project of Pollenn CIC
5 Riverside House, Heron Way, Truro, Cornwall, TR1 2XN
01872 260429