31 Jul

Victoria’s Positive Peer Support Experience

I feel very lucky that I had my baby pre lockdown, as I was able to access the face to face support from infant feeding specialist, BFN volunteers and peer support workers. 

My first baby was born just before Christmas 2019. I planned a hypnobirth, because I wanted a calm drug free delivery.  Unfortunately, my waters were low, when I went for a scan just before and everything changed.  

Between Monday and Wednesday, I had multiple interventions ending with me attached to a hormone drip.  By Thursday morning I was only 3 cm dilated, my baby was in distress and I had spiked a temperature of 40 degrees. My baby was finally born by emergency caesarean. I was gutted.  

My baby girl was put on my chest briefly, then whisked away to neonatal. We were both treated for sepsis and had cannulas fitted – which was very uncomfortable for us and for feeding. I worried about hurting her and I was in pain because of my surgery.  

To be honest, the hospital offered no specific breastfeeding support – and some of the midwives showing me had never breastfed before themselves. One midwife suggested I use a rolled up towel under my ‘pendulous” breasts’ but the sister in charge told me off for doing this.

Then my baby lost weight and I was pressured to cup feed. It was a very bad experience and I felt at a loss. I was desperate to get out of hospital and get the breastfeeding support I needed in comfortable and familiar surroundings.  Once I was allowed home (on a feeding plan a week later)

I had a breastfeeding peer support worker come to my house and spend over an hour with me working on positioning and attachment. She suggested tongue tie and I got a referral to the hospital where they said there was no tongue tie. But I was still experiencing issues and painful nipples.  

When my baby was two weeks old, I attended the BfN Bolsover breastfeeding support group and the support they gave was outstanding. To hear similar experiences from other mums was great. I cried the whole meeting. They offered me cake and comfort.  

I finally got a referral to an infant feeding specialist, who came to the house and confirmed that my baby had a posterior tongue tie. When my baby was 6 weeks old, we got her tongue tie released. I also got advice on positioning, and attachment which really helped.  

All this time I continued attending BfN support group at Bolsover, then the new Chesterfield support group that opened. By the time baby was 10 weeks old, I was no longer experiencing pain!  I was so relieved.

During lockdown I have still been able to access support on the phone from national breastfeeding helpline, health visitors and weekly zoom video calls with bfn support groups. 

I can’t bare to think if I’d had my baby during lockdown. I don’t imagine I’d still be feeding now. It makes me sad to think there are women out there struggling without the hands on face to face support. 
BfN peer support volunteers helped me with so much – with positioning and general confidence boosting. My husband came to the groups too, they helped him as he felt like a spare part until then!  

My baby is now 7 months old, exclusively breastfed and I’ve even mastered feeding her in a sling!  Thank you! 

Victoria and baby Alessia

10 Jul

National Breastfeeding Helpline – Summer Update

Last time I wrote an NBH update, we were in the very early stages of our response to the Covid 19 crisis, but already I had been amazed at how our helpline volunteers had responded.

I can honestly say that over the last couple of months, they have continued to step up and do so much to meet increased demand for helpline support.

As lockdown was announced in March we applied to SERCO (one of the NBH funders) for additional funding to help us meet the need for remote breastfeeding support. They approved our request and we quickly used this to set up a voicemail option on the helpline.

So now if callers are unable to get through when they ring us, they have the option to leave a message, and one of our fabulous team of (paid) voicemail supporters will call them back as soon as possible.  This intervention has meant that we are now able to either answer or give the option to leave a voicemail to every caller to the helpline during opening hours. 

We have some amazing statistics from April and May. Over those two months alone, our volunteers answered over 3000 calls! They spent over 1015 hours actually in calls  (112% increase on this period last year). So not only are we answering more calls, we are also talking for longer – the average call length has increased as well. 

In addition to this, our voicemail team have returned nearly 700 voicemails since the 23rd March when this feature was introduced. As well as our voice support, we have also answered 455 web chats and we have responded to 553 social media messages – a 48% increase on the same period last year on social media alone!

All of this during a time when everyone’s lives have been turned upside down – volunteers, like everyone, have faced uncertainties about work and income, kids suddenly at home all day needing help with home schooling, emotional worries about their own health or that of family members and friends. 

It’s been a truly challenging time but the amazing effort that our volunteers have put in on the helpline, web chat and social media has shone through and created a real beam of positivity. 

We’ve also had more opportunities during lockdown to get together virtually which has been lovely – we’ve had virtual breakfast get togethers, a virtual afternoon tea celebration during Volunteers Week, plus online Zoom chats to allow volunteers to discuss issues that are important to them. It’s been lovely to see so many people attending these virtual events. 

The thousands of families our volunteers have supported during this period will remember them foreverI want to say a massive thank you so much to every single volunteer for being there for other families during this time.

Felicity Lambert, NBH Manager

Some quotes from callers:

“Throughout lockdown accessing breastfeeding support has been really challenging, however I am very grateful for the knowledge, passion and empathy shown by the volunteers at the National Breastfeeding Helpline. Thank you very much!”

“This call has been a blessing I think I was meant to talk to you, I was ready to throw in the towel but after speaking to you I feel so reassured, the information you have given me is gold dust thank you so much.” 

“I first rang when my baby was 3 days old and things were not going well. You kept me going. A huge thank you to all of you, you are a very special lifeline to new mums like me right now.”

“Surprised to be able to speak online with someone on a Sunday after 8pm but truly grateful.”

“I am so very grateful to be able to access support from you and grateful to you volunteers for giving up their time to help. The volunteer was able to answer all of my questions and was so helpful. Thank you again.”


The National Breastfeeding Helpline is run in partnership between the BfN and the ABM. The initiative is funded by PHE and the Scottish Government. All calls are answered by trained volunteers, working in their own homes, using a virtual call centre. The helpline offers evidence based, non judgmental, friendly information, reassurance and support and is open every day of the year from 9.30am-9.30pm on 0300 100 0212. Support is available in Welsh and Polish on the same number.




06 Jul

BfN Release 2020 Evaluation Highlights

In March 2020 we opened our annual evaluation survey to mums, families and health professionals.

The results of the survey help us to understand what we are doing well,  where we can improve and give us the evidence we need to help secure future funding. 


A summary of the evaluation results can be found here.


We have also created this short video to highlight the key findings:



Thank you to everyone who took part, we want you to know that your input is vital to our work. 


Download the 2020 Evaluation Infographic in PDF

Go to the 2019 Evaluation Survey