A RECENT study by the Lancet shows rates of breastfeeding in the UK are the lowest in the world.
However a local breastfeeding support group has been going from strength to strength in the Vale since it first opened in 1999.
Observer editor Rob George found out more about Evesham Breastfeeding Mothers
A POPULAR group which rose from a small meeting room at the Merstow Green to its current venue at Evesham Baptist Church recently celebrated it’s 16th birthday.
Evesham Breastfeeding Mothers, which meets every Friday lunchtime from midday to 2pm has been running since September 1999.
Despite reaching its ‘teenage years’, there is no sign of it slowing down with more mums and mums to be turning up every week.
The group emerged from a breastfeeding working group involving local midwives, health visitors and National Childbirth Trust breastfeeding counsellors.
Organiser Jane Watson-Davis, a breastfeeding counsellor with the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) for more than 20 years, said there was a need a for a weekly drop-in support group for breastfeeding mothers.
“Even though only a handful of breastfeeding pairs turned up, it was very crowded as the room was about the size of a large broom cupboard!,” she said.
“We started to look for another venue and were very fortunate to be offered the small room in the Baptist Church.
“Ed and Sarah Pillar, the Baptist minister and his wife, had two happily breastfed children and wanted the church to be used during the week to help the local community.
“After a couple of years, seeing that we were outgrowing the smaller room, they suggested that we move into the main church hall.
“That has been our home away from home every Friday lunchtime since then,” Jane added.
Jane runs the popular group alongside two long-term attendees, Andrea Jones and Elly Morris who have both had training as breastfeeding peer supporters.
“The church has generously let us have the room free of charge and their warm welcome and kindness have allowed us to carry on an uninterrupted service while other groups in the county have come and gone.
“About five years ago, when the Orchard Vale Children’s Centre was established in Evesham, it began to help fund the group and has carried on doing so ever since,” she said.
Mums from across the Vale regularly attend the group, some towards the end of their pregnancy to learn more about the early days as a parent.
“Some are suffering from specific problems and others just want to make friends and have some support from other women who are going through, or have already been through, a similar experience,” Jane said.
“There is always a cup of tea or coffee and a selection of cake on offer.
“Lots of mums bring lunch and the toddlers have their own little table and chairs where they lunch together in a very sophisticated way.
“While some mothers just come to the group a few times when they want help over a specific issue, others come every Friday for many months, or even years.
“There are occasions when no-one present has a burning breastfeeding issue.
“But providing a friendly and supportive atmosphere in which women can get to know each other, share experiences and offer one another support is valuable for that alone.
“On many occasions, we have been able to help someone through a problem patch and many mothers have told me that the group was what helped them to carry on breastfeeding at a point when they were close to giving up.
“There have also been many very interesting discussions about parenting issues, sharing of birth stories, support on returning to work and a lot of laughter!,” she added.
Visit www.facebook.com/NCTValeofEvesham for more information.