Alexandra Dilkes, Volunteer Coordinator Derbyshire
The Breastfeeding Network Derbyshire are over 70 volunteers who provide breastfeeding peer support to families across Derbyshire completely free of charge. Drop in support groups are held in 20 venues across the county, including at the Chesterfield St Helena campus of the University of Derby. Earlier this week, the University of Derby drop in welcomed a very special visitor in Her Royal Highness, the Princess Royal.
Her Royal Highness was in attendance at the University of Derby to name a new training ward used by health students, the Florence Nightingale Ward. Read more about the state-of-the-art training facility here.
Her Royal Highness spoke to volunteers responsible for running sessions at the University, where they had the opportunity to share information about the support they provide for families across Derbyshire. They discussed breastfeeding as a new experience for many mothers, who require support to learn the skills associated with breastfeeding, such as positioning and attachment, in the early stages and the importance of normalising this, supporting mothers to feel confident in seeking and accepting breastfeeding support.
The volunteers also spoke with Her Royal Highness about the pressures new parents face associated with social media, which can often perpetuate false expectations of parenthood. This can result in families feeling they are not ‘getting it right’ for their child and Her Royal Highness was heartened to see that BfN Derbyshire offer a safe, supportive space for new parents to meet, support each other and be supported to understand normal infant behaviour, adjust their expectations and feel more confident in their abilities.
“Their support has been invaluable. We attend often and without the group I wouldn’t have been able to keep breastfeeding.”Holly, BfN Derbyshire Mum
Victoria, a volunteer with the BfN, told Her Royal Highness about her own experiences attending the group when her daughter was born and she was finding breastfeeding difficult. She spoke about her passion for supporting other families who are in a similar position to the one she found herself in and the joy she gets from providing support.
Our volunteers in Derbyshire have given an estimated 1000 hours in the last 12 months, supporting over 1600 families in that time. We are so proud that the hard work of our volunteers was recognised by Her Royal Highness and the volunteers and mums were so touched that she took time to discuss the important work we do in Derbyshire and appreciated how valuable the support provided by the BfN is for families.
We are thankful to Community Chesterfield, a Derbyshire Voluntary Action and University of Derbyshire partnership project, who invited us, along with NHS Infant Feeding Specialists and trainee Midwives to showcase our work to Her Royal Highness.
World Breastfeeding Week is fast approaching (1st-7th August 2023) and BfN Derbyshire are looking forward to further celebrations of the work we do across the county, focused on this year’s theme, ‘Enabling Breastfeeding: Making a Difference for Working Parents.’ You can find out more about the work BfN Derbyshire do here. Why not follow us on social media by clicking on the icons below?