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Breastfeeding group reaches milestone

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As the UK pauses this week to reflect on the second anniversary of the first COVID-19 lockdown, Gloucestershire Breastfeeding Supporters’ Network (GBSN) has hit another significant milestone, celebrating responding to their 2,000th request for video support.

GBSN, which has been running in the county for over 13 years, runs 7 weekly Breastfeeding Support groups. These drop-in groups are free to attend and offer legendary cake and cuppas as well as infant feeding support from their own volunteer Peer Supporters and NCT-trained professional Breastfeeding Counsellors.

As restrictions began in March 2020, GBSN moved their groups online so that they could protect the vulnerable pregnant women and new babies they support.  The Charity’s Trustees knew that virtual groups would help to replace the vital social interaction offered by their groups but wouldn’t be suitable for the more personal and challenging issues that mums turn to them for help with.

Even before the first “stay home” order was issued, GBSN had launched their “video 1:1” service. Initially, mums contacted the charity through Facebook but they quickly established a web form system. Each evening for the last two years, a volunteer has replied to the Mums who have filled in forms that day to assure them that they will be offered a call the next day (Monday – Friday).

The free breastfeeding support video calls are carried out by GBSN’s team of Breastfeeding Counsellors, who are professionals trained by the NCT.

Mums have requested help for everything from painful feeding to slow weight gain, and from disrupted sleep to introducing solid food. GBSN also supports Mums with breastfeeding grief – exploring their feelings associated with their breastfeeding journey not going to plan.

As the 2nd anniversary of the first COVID lockdown approaches, GBSN is celebrating responding to 2,000 requests for support. Each request has been met with an offer of free breastfeeding support the next working day. GBSN has considered the equivalent cost of video calls with private practitioners and estimates that their service could have saved these families up to £120,000. 

Although COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted and GBSN’s in-person groups are all fully running again (as they have whenever possible over the last 2 years, including taking place in public parks in summer 2020), the charity has no plans to stops its video call service.

Anna Wood, GBSN Trustee and Volunteer Call Co-ordinator said: “We are so proud to have responded to 2,000 requests for virtual support over the past two years. We recognise that whilst our in-person groups are very welcoming, some families will prefer to have support by video from the comfort of their own home. We are delighted to offer both.”

Sophie, mum to Harry, born May 2020 said: “I really struggled to establish breastfeeding after a c-section and Harry was struggling to get back to his birth weight. I contacted GBSN for a free video call and the Breastfeeding Counsellor was so helpful with tips on how to build up my milk supply. Once the face-to-face groups were up and running it was super to be able to drop in and meet other new mums in the area and ask the GBSN MOBS Stroud team all my questions!”

To find out more about accessing GBSN’s free support, or to make a donation to fund their ongoing work, please visit their Linktree – https://instabio.cc/3021717Hm0Xhz

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