Train to be a registered BfN volunteer

We provide two levels of training designed for mums who have breastfed to become registered BfN volunteers.  This can be provided as part of a Peer Support project or as a stand-alone activity, to increase breastfeeding awareness and support in a specific area. All our training is accredited and is delivered by trained BfN tutors. You will work through the training as part of a group.  This enables you to share experiences and develop relationships with other women training to volunteer in your local area or across the UK.

BfN training is open to all women who have personal experience of breastfeeding their own babies.  It is open to mothers of all ages and background; to enable them to widen their knowledge, skills and experience to support breastfeeding within their communities or remotely.  BfN is committed to promoting equality and diversity and to eliminating discrimination in our training and coordination of volunteers.  We will always look to make reasonable adjustments and to provide additional support so as to ensure that our training is accessible to everyone.

There are currently two different levels of training:

BfN Helper Course (Peer Supporter)

By completing the course you can hope to achieve:

  • The knowledge to support other mums with breastfeeding
  • A nationally recognised, Open College Network (London) accredited qualification (two units at Level 2, equivalent level to GCSEs in England and National 5s in Scotland)
  • The opportunity to continue training to become a BfN Registered Breastfeeding Supporter

Training to become a BfN Helper volunteer is usually free and may include a crèche facility.

BfN Registered Helpers (peer supporters) can volunteer in a variety of different ways: in BfN breastfeeding drop-in groups, in hospitals, schools and in antenatal classes.

The course itself usually consists of twelve 2 hour sessions which are traditionally delivered face to face at a local community venue.  We are currently developing a more blended approach.  This combines the same excellent support from an experienced BfN tutor and access to an accredited course using an online format. The online course includes around seven group tutorials delivered via video call.

There is also a version of the BfN Helper Course aimed specifically at training peer supporters to be able to volunteer in the neonatal unit.

BfN Supporter Course

BfN Registered Helpers may go on to do a second stage of training if they wish. On completion of this second level of training you would become a BfN Registered Supporter.  You would develop the skills to work more independently and to offer phone support on the National Breastfeeding Helpline (NBH).

The BfN Supporters course consists of at least two units at OCNL level 3, with the opportunity to complete a further unit (equivalent level to GCE A levels in England and Highers in Scotland and worth up to 12 credits). There are 13 group sessions delivered face to face or as online video calls over around 6 months.  Trainees are expected to complete 13 assignments which are then assessed and moderated. This course may be delivered entirely face to face or using a mix of online training and group video call tutorials.

What do you get when you train with us?

  • All workbooks, manuals, course materials and other resources to help you support mums and families
  • The opportunity to complete training as part of a group of mums who have breastfed
  • Support from a trained BfN Tutor
  • Assessment and internal moderation of completed coursework
  • Peer support from other trainees on the course and the opportunity to develop a supportive network
  • Registration and accreditation with Open College Network (London)
  • BfN ID badge and OCNL certificate upon completion
  • Full complimentary membership of BfN for two years (see here for full details) – including DBS and PVG checks, low-cost or free entry to our annual conference and subscription to our quarterly BfN News and Central Line updates
  • Insurance to volunteer on behalf of BfN
  • Regular supervision (usually monthly) and ongoing support
  • Ongoing training and opportunities for further development (Helpers can train to become Supporters and Supporters can go on to train as Supervisors and Tutors)
  • The opportunity to work as a registered volunteer which can be useful work experience when applying for paid employment, also with a reference from a national charity

Training for Health Professionals and others

We are able to deliver training to health professionals or customer-facing staff to increase their knowledge of how to support a breastfeeding mother.  Our First Milk Matters course lasts for just 2 or 3 hours and aims to:

  • increase knowledge and awareness about breastfeeding
  • empower families to make informed choices about feeding their baby
  • share evidence about why breastfeeding is important
  • help people think about what they can do to support breastfeeding in their own community.

It is aimed at anyone interested in breastfeeding e.g. expectant parents, children’s centre staff, teachers, nursery/early years staff, third sector organisations and non-specialist health professionals such as paediatric nurses, pharmacists, and GP’s. Please see here for more information on this course.

We have also delivered bespoke training to health professionals in response to individual requests.

E-Learning courses

We are working on developing a suite of e-learning courses. The first of these “Supporting breastfeeding mothers with thrush” is now available via our online shop.

This e-learning module takes about 30 to 60 minutes to complete and at the end of the course you should be able to:

  • Describe the main causes of thrush in breastfeeding mums and babies
  • Identify appropriate treatment of thrush
  • Explain what other things can also cause pain while breastfeeding
  • Provide support for breastfeeding women with thrush

What People Say About our Courses

This feedback comes from people who have completed our training, including mums training to be volunteers, Health Visitors and Midwifery Care Assistants.

“Training to be a Breastfeeding Supporter was one of my best decisions ever. It’s been incredibly rewarding and moving to support other mums who choose to breastfeed their babies. A side effect of the thorough and interesting training is the feeling of achievement and value I’ve experienced.”

”I found the course as a whole really interesting, I found the group work and one-to-one sessions interesting as I was able to see other points of view and got to understand and appreciate other mothers experiences.”

If you have other questions you should find the answers in our Breastfeeding Training Frequently Asked QuestionsYou may also find it useful to take a look at our Code of Conduct and the Conflict of Interest policy to find out if you would be eligible to train with us.

Availability of Training

Click here to go to our Peer Support Projects page where you can view individual project pages and contact details.

If your area is not listed it is unlikely that we are currently offering training near you.  We are developing new courses, including online training, and information will be made available here on the website and on social media so please keep checking back.  If you would like to tell us more about why you would like to train please email admin@breastfeedingnetwork.org.uk, including your:

  • Name
  • Contact telephone number
  • Postcode
  • Main reason for wanting to train

We will keep these details on file and we will try to let you know of any new courses that may be of interest.  Any information you send us will be handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Commissioning our Training

It is also possible to commission a course for up to 12 trainees. This can be tailored to meet the specific needs of your group, for example in the past we have run half day Breastfeeding Awareness courses for Primary Care Trusts and have delivered commissioned courses for GP practices. Click here to view more details.

To discuss this in more detail please email projects@breastfeedingnetwork.org.uk  or call us on 0844 412 0995.

Already trained and interested in joining us?

We are always very happy to have people with relevant qualifications and experience join us as a BfN volunteer or on the National Breastfeeding Helpline. There are several different ways this can happen depending on your previous training, experience and qualifications. Examples of relevant qualifications might include training with another peer support organisation or working as a Midwife or Health Visitor. As we are a peer support organisation all our volunteers need to have personal experience of breastfeeding their own child/children as well as relevant qualifications.

If you would like to find out more about joining BfN using your existing qualifications and experience please email admin@breastfeedingnetwork.org.uk.

Finding Alternative Training

In areas where BfN is not able to offer training you may be interested in the following:

  • Our partners on the National Breastfeeding Helpline also offer training. To find out more see Association of Breastfeeding Mothers.
  • Your nearest maternity unit may have an infant feeding coordinator, who has information on what training is being offered locally.

Other organisations who provide training include

Page last updated August 2020