Ready to help...Newly graduated breastfeeding peer sup port counsellors and sup porters gather to cele brate the milestone in Gore earlier this week. PHOTO: MARGARET PHILLIPS

Breast-feeding mothers now have the opportunity to gain support from new breast-feeding peer support counsellors.

Eight women graduated as breast-feeding peer support counsellors at a ceremony in Gore on Wednesday.

The women have spent six weeks training in the peer counsellor programme, and will become part of Otago and Southland Breast-feeding Support.

The course has been tutored by breast-feeding peer support administrator Lisa Dewhurst and was made available by WellSouth Primary Health Organisation.

“It has been an absolute privilege to get to know such a motivated group of mothers who want to support their community,” Miss Dewhurst said.

“The girls have put in a lot of hours,” she said.

She described the graduates as kind-hearted people who were keen to help others in the community.

The peer supporter programme helped families with feeding challenges and motherhood, empowering mothers to make choices that suited their family, she said.

Breast-feeding peer counsellors are volunteers who are trained to provide non-judgemental breast-feeding support and information on the normal course of breast-feeding, overcoming common barriers and breast-feeding problems.

They are available for one-on-one support; phone, text or email help; drop-in sessions and home visits.

The women are from Gore, Edendale and Invercargill. There are now about 30 peer counsellors in Southland, including Gore and Te Anau. The programme has been running since 2009 and is also available in Central Otago and Dunedin.

WellSouth Health Promotion specialist Bridget Rodgers said the organisation was happy to have a valuable new addition of skilled and knowledgeable community support for breast-feeding mothers in Gore.

“We’d like to let families know that if they ever need any support with breast-feeding there’s lots of help for them locally,” Ms Rodgers said.

The graduates are: Samantha Richardson, Hilary Valely, Erin Gray, Vicki Ramsay, Hayley Orr, Jana Cornes, Kristy Barbour and Shauna Kubala.

For further information, contact WellSouth on (03)214-6436.

Ministry of Health recommendations are as follows:

Breast-feeding is the best way to provide newborns with all the nutrients they need.

The World Health Organisation and the Ministry of Health recommend exclusive breast-feeding until a baby is 6 months old and continued breast-feeding with the addition of nutritious complementary foods for up to two years or beyond.Running sport mediaNike