JANET Calvert, Regional Breastfeeding Coordinator at the NI Public Health Agency, last week presented volunteer breastfeeding peer supporters with their Open College Network awards at a ceremony in the Causeway Hospital.
Rosemary Kerr, breastfeeding Coordinator at the Causeway Hospital, and Sinead Lynch, Breastfeeding Coordinator for the Northern Trust, were also present.
The Northern Trust recognises the importance of breastfeeding and the many health benefits it offers to both mother and baby. Peer support is one of the many initiatives undertaken by the Trust which is known to improve low breastfeeding rates.
Northern Ireland has the lowest breastfeeding rates in the United Kingdom and the Causeway area has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland mothers breastfeed for shorter periods than their UK counterparts. Lack of confidence and lack of support are two of the reasons given by mothers who stop breastfeeding but would have preferred to continue for longer.
Peer supporters undertake 30 training at level two accredited through the Open College Network Northern Ireland. This course enables the learner to develop skills in the health and social care area that would assist the learner with pursuing a career of further study in this area