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So you want to train to be a breastfeeding supporter

I'm often asked about routes into breastfeeding support so today I thought I'd post some links. The more people who know and feel confident supporting women to breastfeed the better. We used to have a shared knowledge about breastfeeding but we lost it once the numbers of women breastfeeding plummeted in the 1950s. All breastfeeding support training includes information about bottle feeding and formula milk, as it is about supporting the individual woman and family in what they need, whilst helping them to breastfeed their baby for as long as they want.

The easiest and quickest way is to become a local breastfeeding peer supporter. Across the UK there are different schemes with different levels of training. In my area (Bedfordshire) this is organised by the community NHS. It is 2.5 days of training followed by a 1-1 session and termly meet ups. It is one of the best training sessions I have ever been on. It is the same Unicef Baby Friendly UK recognised Management and Support of Breastfeeding training as the health visitors and children's centre staff and there is a follow up one to one session and termly updates and reviews. In return you are asked to volunteer as a breastfeeding buddy at one of the Baby Brasseries at least twice a month. You can take your baby/toddler to the sessions and babes in arms can be taken on the training.

The Association of Breastfeeding Mothers (ABM) have several different levels of training at reasonable cost. It is worthwhile joining them as their magazine is very interesting and will increase your knowledge.

La Leche League have one of the most comprehensive trainings and it is mostly self taught through reading. It is internationally recognised as it is a worldwide organisation.

Final training option is through the NCT. It is also very thorough and more expensive (finance is available) but you also get a foundation degree.

So there you have it: different routes into breastfeeding support. None of these are for lactation consultant. Lactation consultant is the highest level of qualification. A lactation consultant is highly knowledgeable and experienced in giving breastfeeding and infant feeding support. If anyone says they are a lactation consultant you can check against the list on the Lactation Consultants of GB's website. Most midwives and health visitors have done no more than the 2.5 day Management and Support of Breastfeeding. Indeed that's what I have. GPs and paediatricians have even less. (Though I think every paediatrician should be a lactation consultant.) So if you are on the receiving end of feeding support and are not happy with the level of expertise then ask to see a lactation consultant.

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