e-newseltter for Cornwall Real Baby Milk Peer Supporters
December 2015

December 2015

Cornwall Peer Support Newsletter

Above photo: join the newly relauched Helston Feeding Friends for tea, cake and breastfeeding support (read the full story below).

Helston Feeding Friends

Support group relaunches

By Hanna Holcroft, Peer Support Co-ordinator

Helston Feeding Friends was relaunched on Monday 28th of September this year, after a protracted period of the group not running. Lou Pickett, a highly experienced volunteer, and Lucy Probert, a newly trained one, welcomed mums with smiles and cake, offering breastfeeding support and the opportunity to make friends. Since the group restarted, mums have come in ebbs and flows, but actually mainly in ebbs. The group's Facebook page is also fairly active and Lucy and Lou really felt that the group has taken off well and will only continue to grow as time passes. Helston Feeding Friends runs every Monday at the children's centre from 10am to 12pm - new mums are always welcome and new/old volunteers would be very much appreciated moving forward, as currently it's a two-woman-band!

"Feeding Friends is a wonderful group to go to for friendship, information and support. I'm so glad it's back as it's vital to get that much needed support in the early days as well as throughout your breastfeeding journey. The volunteers are friendly, passionate, encouraging people who make no issue seem unimportant." - Kelly Eeles, breastfeeding mum

Hospital Peer Support

An insight into being a volunteer

Interview with Hospital Peer Supporter, Katy

What first inspired you to become a Hospital Breastfeeding Peer Supporter?
After a difficult birth with my first baby, we got off to a bad start and stayed in hospital for 5 days, with a sleepy, tongue tied, and jaundice baby (and shattered, sore mummy). I got various help from lots of different people, including Helen Shanahan. I still struggled at home but finally got there and carried on for two and a half years. I found out later (6 months) that he was allergic to dairy, and very badly. So I was even more grateful for the help that I received. As what I thought was a difficult journey could have been made so much harder if I hadn't carried on breastfeeding (baby was given a small amount of formula at day 2/3, after my reluctant agreement, as I was told it would wake him up to breastfeed), I still believe/wonder if this early introduction to cows milk may have caused his allergy. So having done my community training (8 years ago and supporting for a few years). I found out that there was new training to support in the hospital. This made me think that I could return the help I got to the new mums on the ward. So they didn't have to struggle the same way. Every time I walk through the doors, I hope I can make a difference, no matter how small.

Was the training very different to the original Community Breastfeeding Peer Support training you completed? Can you explain why...?
I completed my community training (more personal journey and less learning how your breasts work and things that could go wrong) in 2008. I did go to the first ever hospital training (2012/13?) but due to moving house I wasn't able to finish. So my second try at training was more positive. It was harder and more complex as it contained information that was either new (neo-natal) or a different way of doing things, e.g. having to write notes in the maternity folders - this is my weakness, as I struggle with spelling. It was remembering the information/processes in a professional environment that makes it different. In the community you see mums that come to see you for advice and you chat, whereas at the hospital it's the other way around - so there is much more to assess in a short space of time (tired, sore mum, sleepy babies and other family members). Because of this, the training itself is more involved and intense, preparing you for those aspects and your lack of experience with a few day old babies - you are helping to make sure that things go right in the first place, so they don't go wrong later on.

Has being a Hospital Volunteer and completing the training impacted on your Community Volunteer role?
It's made a huge difference in many ways, I have more confidence and know so much more information (especially if we see really new babies at 1 or 2 weeks old): listening to mums' birth stories make more sense, passing on information to other Peer Supporters, helping with the ante natal classes. I read a lot of articles on all areas of breastfeeding and I understand so much more (all the good and bad advice that is given). I don't feel like it's made any difference to my time or commitment at the community group as that is my main priority. I go to support in hospital any other day, it's a separate role.

How easy do you find it to commit to volunteer sessions on the ward?
I have two days in the week I can't do, so that leaves me with three to choose. I like to think if I can go every other week, that's great. So if I or the kids get ill and I miss one, I have still managed one in a month. The holidays are a problem as I can't get help with my childcare, so I try to make up for this but so far it's been hit and miss. I feel you need to go in more than less... to keep in the loop and remember the important points. So at the moment having missed a few it's harder to get back into the swing of it. I do get nervous catching the bus in but once I'm through the ward doors it's all good and I love my experice there... (and all too soon I have to go and pick up the kids).

How do you feel about being a Hospital Peer Supporter, what do you feel you have gained from the role?
I love telling my friends/family that I now volunteer up at the hospital. It makes me feel quite proud that I have achieved what I wanted to do so many years ago - finally!!! I would love to work on the ward but I can't do shift work, so this is my goal for now. It's a whole new experience and learning that has taken me further (out of my comfort zone) and into a working environment. One day this may help towards a new job/career... as I'm unsure and out of practice from being a stay at home mummy. It also makes me proud to work at our NHS, we the UK are very lucky to have such amazing and hard working midwives, nurses and doctors (everybody). They are always pleased to see the pink ladies and are friendly and helpful (even if they are very busy with their notes and always being full to bursting on the ward).

Would you recommend it to others and if so why?
I would definitely recommend anyone interested in it, to go and find out more about it... then train up. I guess I would give them a heads up on the time it takes up to train, but that it's all worth it (for all involved). It's a shame there are not more pink ladies and we could go in each and every day (and night) so all mums and babies get the support and information they need for the best start with breastfeeding - that way the drop off (of stopping breastfeeding) after two weeks would be so much lower, which would hopefully lead to longer feeding times (a year and beyond).

Breastmilk Sharing

Useful Information

by Stephanie Heard, Infant Feeding Co-ordinator

Peer Supporters will be well aware that the World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding as the best and safest way to feed a baby, followed by breastmilk feeding with mum's milk. WHO recommends that where mum's milk is not available, the next best food for baby is the milk of another mother. Many people are aware that in the UK, some babies with special needs, e.g. prematurity or illness, may be fed with donated breastmilk if circumstances make this necessary. Donation and use of breastmilk in these circumstances is quite tightly controlled and due to the relative scarcity of donor milk banks, it can be difficult, especially in counties such as Cornwall, to either donate or receive breastmilk.

In recent months, there has been some national publicity around informal breastmilk sharing between mothers in the UK. It has long been known that such sharing is quite common in some parts of the world, but it may be that until recently this was less common in this country or possibly, it is with the popularity of social media, that mothers are becoming more open to discussion of this.

Informal breastmilk sharing seems to take two particular forms - milk sharing through relationship or friendship and for convenience and milk sharing to meet a particular need for an individual. In the first of these circumstances, women may feed or express for each other's babies when one party is caring for the other's baby due to work or social commitment. In the other, mothers may request informal donation of milk from family, friends or others if, for example, their own breastmilk supply is compromised or interrupted and they wish to avoid giving formula milk.

There are obvious potential benefits and risks to informal breastmilk sharing. Access to human milk in this way can remove the need to use formula milk, maximise breastmilk intake for babies thus increasing health benefit and maximise breastmilk production for mums, thus increasing their health benefit also. Some mothers report that sharing breastmilk in this way improves friendship or family relationships and helps them to bond with other mothers and babies. Risks associated with informal breastmilk sharing centre on the possibility of using milk infected with disease or contaminated with bacteria which could compromise the well-being of recipient babies.

Because of the potential risks associated with informal breastmilk sharing this does not form part of the role of Cornwall's Breastfeeding Peer Supporters. Children's Centres are unable to participate in the collection or storage of donated breastmilk and Peer Support groups cannot be used as a conduit for requests to share breastmilk. However, Peer Support volunteers may choose, as individuals, to continue to or become involved in breastmilk sharing and this is a matter of personal informed choice.

Tricky Situations

Example situations and responses

Situation 1: A mum shows signs of post natal depression but I wasn't sure completely, and she has not been to the group much and may not attend again, should I refer to a Health Professional or not?

Helping the mum feel relaxed in a friendly environment, asking gentle open questions, supporting her with positive encouragement, might mean that she is more likely to return to the group. This open conversation can lead to asking about other support the mum has in place and may offer the opportunity to seek her consent to mention your concerns for her to her Health Visitor. As Peer Supporters finding an opportunity to discuss and debrief the support given is important for developing practice and gaining confidence - your group's link Health Visitor can help with this or make a note to discuss this in your supervision call with our Peer Support Coordinator, Hanna.

Situation 2: A mum attends a group and the baby appears to have a tongue tie, but the GP cannot tell and the baby is gaining weight.

The key to this is baby may be gaining weight, however, the Peer Supporter can support and refer to the Health Visitor for their opinion too particularly if the baby is very young (less than 3 weeks) as milk supply problems can take some time to show if a mum's milk supply has been enough for the baby so far (think growth spurts). The position and attachment and how effectively the baby is milk the breast is still important and observing a feed from start to finish can still improve things for the mother and baby. Listen to the mum and/or ask questions: does the baby appear content and happy between feeds? How long is baby feeding? Is there any discomfort for mum?

2016 Peer Support Training

We will be running four Community Peer Support  courses across Cornwall and two courses for the Hospital Peer Support

Launceston, Jan 2016, St Dennis, April 2016, Camborne, September, 2016 and Bodmin 2016
For more information on referring mums interested in training to volunteer please refer to our website to complete an expression of interest form.
The next Hospital Peer Support Course will run at the knowledge spa on 19th and 22nd January2016.
email for more details about training and becoming a Hospital Peer Supporter.

Above Photo: Truro Training

We are really excited to have newly trained Peer Supporters, one session delivered in Liskeard and the other in Truro (see their smiley faces in the above and below photos). Congratulations to these Peer Supporters!

Above Photo: Liskeard Training

We are currently making a plan to run training in January, April, September and November 2016. This will be spread across Cornwall and hopefully help groups be sustainable.


Hospital Support Volunteer, Katy

Read her interview opposite.

Breasts in Cornwall!

Breasts at the Eden Project...

UNICEF Baby Friendly Conference 2015

Well, Real Baby Milk have returned inspired from the UNICEF Baby Friendly Conference, my particular highlight was listening to Robin Grille, psychologist and author of Parenting for a Peaceful World. Take a look at the link to read a bit more about Robin.

We also took the opportunity to launch our new DVD Expressing and Giving Breastmilk. It is a fantastic new resource for Peer Support groups. It has 6 chapters, follow the link for more info and the trailer.

Prize Draw and Conference Price frozen for Peer Supporters!

We have one copy to give away - to enter simply reply by email to with "Cornwall Expressing Comp" as the subject. The closing date is 18th December.

We are also pleased to announce that we are are freezing the conference price of the DVD for all Peer Supporters at £11.00, the discount code PSUNICEF15 will expire on 18th December, so order your copy soon! Normal RRP is £14.95.

Breasts Abroad!

Hola! Breasts at Costa del Sol...

Baby's Weight Gain and Mum's Concerns

We are really excited to have an interview with the Cornwall Infant Feeding Team: Helen Shanahan, Midwife and Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), and Stephanie Heard, Health Visitor, on babies weight gain and supporting mums with concerns. Follow this link to Audio Boom to listen!

The Latest Cornwall Guide

Click here for the web version of the latest Cornwall guide - there are quite a few changes in this version, focusing on the UNICEF Baby Friendly values: building relationships and responding to your baby, maximising breastfeeding and giving formula to your baby. Groups have been sent a version but it is worth a read either way and a great tool for using in the groups.

Resources for Breastmilk Sharing

There are resources available to support women to make informed choices around informal breastmilk sharing, these can be found at Follow the links below:
Requirements for donors.
Medication and donating breastmilk.
Speaking to potential donors.

Breastfriends Hayle and St Ives

Breastfriends Hayle and St Ives recently in action. Peer Supporters here have found an increase in new mums attending and feel having input at the Great Expectations sessions has been part of this.

Sherry and Breastfeeding do not mix!

Breasts at Tio Pepe Bodega...

We'd love to see any knitted breast or breasts abroad photos you have to include in our newsletters - send any pictures to

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"

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

To comment please email

Contribute to the Cornwall Newsletter

If you have any local news stories or information you would like to include in the next newsletter, please email
Mary Gosling
(Project Manager & Admin)

Hanna Holcroft
(Peer Support Coordinator)
07462 990 485

Chloe Statham
(Guide & Design Manager)

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
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