The scheme is being launched at a three-hour conference in the NCH Family Centre, St Martin's Church Street, Salisbury starting at 9.15am on October 18.
The conference is open to all mums who are successfully breastfeeding or have breastfed and are willing to support new mothers. Along with community midwives and health visitors, they will also be asked to recruit other successful breastfeeding mothers to the scheme.
Angela Siderfin, Infant Feeding Co-ordinator and Salisbury District Hospital midwife said: " Although over 75% of mothers start to breastfeed after birth, by six weeks less than 40% are continuing. Although we carry on providing support when mums leave hospital through breastfeeding support groups, support from mums who are actually breastfeeding successfully at the time can give the extra help that they need to breastfeed over a longer-term period."
The initiative is supported by statistics in Scandinavian countries. In Sweden, where peer group support is common, over 90% of mums breastfeed following the birth and around 30% are still exclusively breastfeeding six months later, with many more still giving some breast milk at this stage.
Breastfeeding can reduce the chance of the baby developing stomach and chest infections, and increases resistance to ear and urine infections. It also helps prevent the baby becoming obese, either as a child or in later life. For the mother it helps reduce the chance of breast and ovarian cancer.
Ms Siderfin said: " We accept that on occasions some women may have real difficulty breastfeeding and this could be due to physical, emotional or cultural reasons. Our aim is to give women the opportunity to breastfeed and provide encouragement and support in a number of ways."
Ms Siderfin added: "The conference is open to anyone interested in becoming a peer group supporter or who would just like to know more about the scheme and its benefits." Ends
Notes to editors:
· Salisbury District Hospital is a Stage 1 baby friendly hospital assessed by UNICEF.
· The new scheme is run by Salisbury District Hospital midwives and the Salisbury Breastfeeding Support Group and also has the support of the Department of Midwifery at Bournemouth University.
For further information please contact:
Patrick Butler, Public Relations Manager, Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust, SP2 8BJ. Tel: 01722 425170