Breastfeeding Celebration Week: Sarah's story

sarah.jpgSarah has been a Peer Support Volunteer at MCH for three years and supports our Infant Feeding Team by speaking to new mums and supporting them with breastfeeding. 

“I was inspired to become a Peer Support Volunteer after having had a difficult breastfeeding journey of my own with my first child 18 years ago. I didn’t have any support at the time and really struggled – I felt I had failed. When I had my second child, I inevitably felt a fear of failure again around breastfeeding. It was with my third child that I found support via a friend, who was a Peer Support Volunteer at the time. She really helped me overcome my fears and gave me the support and confidence I really needed. It completely transformed my breastfeeding journey and having someone to talk to, who knew what I was going through, made such a difference.

Having the help of a Peer Support Volunteer inspired me to take up the opportunity to do the training myself when it was offered to me. I really wanted to help other mums the way I had been helped. Before the pandemic struck, I would volunteer once a week at my local Healthy Living Centre, meeting mums and mums-to-be, giving advice and answering any concerns or questions.

sarah.jpgOnce lockdown came into force however, the service inevitably needed to be adapted if it was able to continue and so I offered to provide the service over the phone. Over the last year I have been talking to mums over the phone and helping them where I can with feeding, helping to make them feel at ease and addressing their concerns.

It was challenging at first, not meeting face-to-face, but I’ve learnt to adapt and describe the different techniques and positions over the phone! In some ways it works really well, as it’s not always easy for new mums to attend the walk-in sessions, so having the phone service is a really good way to provide the support to those who most need it. It will be good to return to the face to face sessions eventually, but for now I am happy to continue the sessions by phone as I am needed.

I absolutely love being a Peer Support Volunteer and would not give it up for anything. I am really grateful to have the opportunity to do this and plan to do it for as long as possible!" 

Sharon works in our Infant Feeding Team at MCH and coordinates our Peer Support Volunteers:

“Sarah always has time to talk to mums and is so friendly, chatty and down to earth. She immediately puts them at ease and supports them with their worries. She has the ability to explain things in a way which helps normalise concerns and nothing is too much trouble. She will go over and above to help in whatever way she can and the feedback from mums she has spoken to is always that she is so supportive and makes them feel like they are doing a fab job, even though emotionally and physically they may be struggling. Sarah always seems to find something positive to say to make the mums feel good about themselves, which is so important to help them on their breastfeeding journey. She has been described as a ‘smiley angel’ at the end of a phone. 

As a volunteer she is an inspiration to all as she always has time to put others before herself, nothing is ever too much trouble and she is always so proactive in promoting the service. Due to being unable to offer face to face support groups, the impact Sarah has made talking to mums by phone is immeasurable.” 

Find support with breastfeeding in Kent and Medway >