A mum and retired midwife have joined forces to open a brand new breastfeeding support group to promote the benefits of long-term breastfeeding.
Mum of six, Sharon Evans has teamed up with retired midwife and breastfeeding expert Christine Mitchell to host a weekly support group at Harrowby Lane Methodist Church and Community Centre, aimed at supporting mums with babies of all ages.
She said: “I have six children. I fed the first five with no major problems but I encountered difficulty with my youngest last year.
“If I hadn’t had met Christine and the group at Belton Lane Children’s Centre, I doubt I would have got past four weeks of feeding. It is not just about the physical breastfeeding support but the emotional help too.
“My eldest is 21 years old, so I have a range of experience to be able to be a support to mums.”
Sharon, a community and pastoral worker at Harrowby Lane Methodist Church, hopes that the new group will appeal to all mums.
She added: “Initially I wanted to set up the group to support new mums or parents like myself who have never had a problem breastfeeding, but found themselves struggling to feed successfully. There are not enough groups around.”
Sharon met retired midwife Christine when she ran the support group at Belton Lane Children’s Centre before she retired in July after 28 years as a midwife. Keen to carry on supporting breastfeeding, she was pleased to offer her expertise at the new group.
She said: “Breastfeeding doesn’t stop at a particular age. We have found that mums of older babies can support those parents with younger babies who maybe experiencing some feeding difficulties. The Department of Health recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life whereas the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends feeding a child for the first two years of their life.
“However it is not always easy. Everyone’s journey is different, so having a supportive network of friends and professionals to seek support from can make such a difference.”
Iva Mackay was one of five mums who attended the first group session on Tuesday along with her seven-week-old daughter Emily.
She said: “I had a few problems feeding to begin with, so it has been great to be able to speak to other mums, otherwise I might have given up feeding by now.”
Helen Storey was also at the group with her two-year-old son Ethan and six-month-old daughter Annabelle.
She said: “I fed Ethan up until two months before Annabelle was born. Although it was easier the second time around, I still like the opportunity to speak to other mums and receive support from Christine.”
Aswell as the breastfeeding group, Sharon also runs Toybox, a parent and toddler group that meets every Tuesday from 11.30 to 1.30pm at Harrowby Lane Methodist Church, providing craft activities and toys for pre-school children, including a hot lunch.
Sharon added: “The church actively encourages any ventures that help the community.”
The two-hour breastfeeding group is held every Tuesday from 1.45pm at Harrowby Lane Methodist Church, Harrowby Lane.