Advanced search

NCT Breast Feeding volunteer training

(25 Posts)
Lucyannieamy Tue 30-Dec-14 20:50:15

Hoping someone around this board might have experience of the NCT breastfeeding volunteer training.

I have registered my interest in the course running in January near me but am still a bit unsure if I can make the commitment, so I'd love to hear anyone else's experience.

I've breastfeed 2 children, now nearly 5 and 2years old. I loved breastfeeding and am keen to help others. I am however working full time, so to do the course I will need to take 7 half day holidays. I would then only be able to volunteer for the 2 hours a week required on a Sat or Sun, or an evening a week. Does anyone know of a full time working mum also doing this BF volunteer work, or is no one else that crazy? What kind of volunteering is expected?

If there isn't anyone with experience of the training, would also be interesting to hear from anyone who has had help from a volunteer.


IAmAPaleontologist Tue 30-Dec-14 20:56:46

You best bet is to have a good chat with whoever coordinates peer supporters in your area. Here they are quite flexible, they do a rota for the various groups and so you can let them know your availability and cover groups that meet on your days off. There are also hospital antenatal workshops you can cover which are at weekends or evenings and they have recently started having peer supporters on the post natal wards so you can sign up to shifts that suit you.

However, the VAST majority of peer supporters stop volunteering when they go back to work. People tend to train while on mat leave and then most slip away in time. Saying that though, if there is a group that you would be able to cover then there is no reason to not do it, stability is needed and I somtimes think they are heading down the wrong track training people on mat leave who won't be able to continue to volunteer. You know what you can offer and if they have something to suit you then you would be a great asset.

I have no done much in the past couple of years as I'm now doing MW training and it has got too busy for me to commit the time but I am hoping to start volunteering on the wards in the new year

squizita Wed 31-Dec-14 09:07:57

It would be very useful to have a mum who works outside the home to advise. I've found nct very helpful BUT so many of the advisors are very well off middle class SAHM with their best intentions they can't always fully advise me on some things specific to going back to work before 1 year etc. They usually know someone who can thankfully but your local nct would be mad not to bite your hand off at this chance!

tiktok Wed 31-Dec-14 10:20:58

Squizita, I don't know who you have met from among Nct peer supprters or breastfeeding counsellors!

We don't have 'advisors' so not sure who you mean.

Most of my nct bfc colleagues work, and many have gone back before their children were a year.

Peer supporters are the same.

Some are well-off stay at home mums, but most are not.

Peer supporter training - basic, usually 10 or 12 weekly sessions - is mainly support and listening, and does not include detailed guidance on going back to work. They cannot advise on this, though they do support and should be able to help a mother explore her options. Nct bfcs are trained more in depth and breadth and should have more input and be more aware of details and experiences.

OP, best option for you is to go to the nct website and click on the college tab. This explains how to train as a bfc.

Peer supprter training is not run directly by nct and is commissioned by children's centres etc etc. NCT trainers then come in and train according to our programme. The commissioners have the final say in who trains, and what would be expected of them once trained. That could well include someone who was going back to work. It depends on how the scheme is set up. If you are asked to attend bf support groups that meet on weekdays, and there is no one to one work outside the groups, then someone working full time mon to fri would not be able to put her training into practice. This means your training place would be better off going to someone who is able to attend the groups. So you need to know how peer support works in your area. Hope this helps.

IAmAPaleontologist Wed 31-Dec-14 10:36:53

I sort of know what Squizita means sadly.

I trained several years ago and we were a good mix of people from the fully lentil weaving to the routine led and we used our broad range of experience to our advantage to appropriately support women. I have been back to my local group sporadically as and when time and lectures allow and have been quite shocked. The training has not changed, the peer supporter role has not changed. As tiktok said it is a supportive role, a listening ear and an aid to exploring options. I have seen some of the more recent trainees rubbish information women have been given by paediatricians and MWs. I have seen them telling women what they need to do. I have seen them advising on all aspects of parenting from sleep to weaning, not seeming to realise that while that sort of chat might be ok in another baby group where it is just a new mum asking a slightly more experienced mum but that when they have that peer supporter t-shirt on they need to watch what they say. It seems to have turned into a lentil weaving, slinging, attachment parenting meet up of friends and will be incredibly off putting to others who come through the door. At the moment they seem to be training lots and lots of people, many of whom are on their first baby and that baby is still tiny so with the best will in the world don't have the experience and are still in that little first baby bubble of "my way is best I will never let my baby watch TV or cry or this that and the other" and lack the ability to put themselves in another woman's shoes. I am sure that given continued reflexive sessions that as their baby grows and their experience broadens they will mature into great supporters of women. But right now the group which used to be so helpful and welcoming is pretty much as Squizita describes.

I hope the OP find that there will be the chance for her to volunteer.

tiktok Wed 31-Dec-14 11:05:46

Once a cohort of nct peer supporters have been trained they are given ongoing support by nct trainers for a year. After that, the cohort is wholly managed by the commissioning body who may or may not include a trainer from nct. If the programme includes a baby cafe, then there will be links with nct (baby cafe is part of nct).

It's absolutely a recognised pitfall that peer supporters may overstep boundaries and start doling out all sorts of advice. In the best run and supervised programmes, this is nipped in the bud, and it's tackled as sensitively and tactfully as possible. But it definitely happens. When you are dealing with human beings and human behaviour, things can go awry.
The hope is that guidance and careful observation prevent it from getting out of hand. Mothers who see or hear this happening should feel confident enough to tell the coordinator about it and even challenge what is said. I know that's difficult. At the end of the day, these people overstepping their role are well motivated, kind and willing, and giving up their own time and effort to help other mothers. It's not like being an employee where a 'boss' figure can crack a whip!

tiktok Wed 31-Dec-14 11:11:33

Paeleo - if the supporters are recently trained as you say, they will be under supervision and the sort of problems you note should be reduced in time. There is never any justification for rubbishing advice given by the HCPs. In the nct peer support training, one of the learning points is specifically knowing NOT to do this. Bfcs don't do it either, ever.

There are tactful and respectful ways of supporting a mother to ask further questions of her hcp, without telling her what she has been told is wrong.

I do the same on here. I hardly ever say to someone they should just ignore what the Hv/midwife/doc has said. It's almost always quite wrong to do this.

IAmAPaleontologist Wed 31-Dec-14 11:30:48

I know, there is a bit of a lull here as they are moving away from baby cafe but I am in touch with the coordinator anyway. It is difficult, as you say they are very well intentioned, they just need continued support. It is a skill which needs to be developed and that takes time. Unfortunately over the past couple of years due to staffing peer supporters have been fairly left to their own devices. The new system should get up and running in the new year and fingers crossed for some reflexive update training then as the least session, which would still have been under the NCT, was cancelled.

squizita Wed 31-Dec-14 12:29:54

tiktok I go to a group up the road from my borough in a very affluent area of London simply because that's where the group is. Unfortunately it's the same with almost all the parent support networks for after birth not just breastfeeding - sorry I should have made that clear ... and those that do work use nannies (not nurseries or chilminders) for example so don't have to ask about those scenarios. I don't live in the area but being London it's very close. When it comes to returning to work there is an assumption one parent (usually "daddy") earns enough to pay for the whole family and if not "why not work from home?" (I work pastorally in a secondary school so it's impossible) are often well meaning but carry the assumption that everyone there either works in an office type role or is very flexible. Or will arrange 1-1 care for their child.
They have always found things out for me and my friends of course, and know the ideas from their training, but don't always have first hand experience. Sadly I think it's because in London working mums have to work so many hours it's hard to then volunteer or anything.

squizita Wed 31-Dec-14 12:40:54

...I hasten to add I've never had dodgy advice put onto me or noticed bias. It's more that it would be nice to have someone who's been there (luckily several friends have kids and BF when working with kids in a nursery). smile Sometimes people at the group will have very firm ideas like a nanny is better for kids than a childminder or ... heavens forbid a nursery but any group will have that!

squizita Wed 31-Dec-14 12:51:16

...oh and my local branch calls it "advice" from the "advisor" when they advertise the support sessions (one attends at a time) not bf counselling or support from the bf counsellor or supporter which is interesting.
I honestly couldn't tell you which of those 2 roles our 2 ladies are!

tiktok Wed 31-Dec-14 13:00:33

Can't be nct offering advice or calling themselves advisors then, as we NEVER use that word. We are insured on those terms. If someone who is working under the auspices of nct is using advice or advisor as a term then please pm me.

Groups will reflect their community in the people who attend them, of course. Anyone at a group in an official capacity like a volunteer or leader should be able to reach out beyond their own experience, if you know what I mean. I think daytime weekday groups will naturally enough get attenders who are not working. Cos the ones who are working are at work smile Even part timers have less time to attend groups on their days off.

squizita Wed 31-Dec-14 13:06:47

It's definitely an NCT group. I've looked and they say support on printed and permanent things and "advice" appears on a social network albeit from their account. It might be a genuine error from whoever posts?

tiktok Wed 31-Dec-14 13:22:01

Sounds like an error. The person who does their Facebook etc should be following the rules though. As I say, our insured status depends on us not offering advice, as well as 'advising' being just not what we do. If you can pm me with the link to their social media, this can be corrected.

ShutUpLegs Wed 31-Dec-14 13:28:21


I think you are best contacting the local co-ordinator and finding out where the Peer Supporters are to be active. If there are plans for volunteering on post-natal wards, then evening or weekend volunteering could be a reasonable option. In some areas, there can be telephone support offered which can be done from home in the evening or at weekends.

If the aim of the commissioner is to have support in community settings, then it could be that the expectation is for volunteers to be able to commit to day-time, week day hours which does not sound like it will suit your circumstances.

squizita Wed 31-Dec-14 13:31:57

Thanks Tiktok I pmed you. smile As I said the actual supporters never push ideas or anything inappropriate - its just on the FB page.

VeryPunny Wed 31-Dec-14 13:34:53

I would have bitten your hand of for sessions on weekends. There is no bf help available outside of Monday to Friday here. I had a section with DD and was unable to drive. My DH was back at work and I was unable to get to bf cafes etc until 6 weeks - he could have helped drive me to weekend sessions though.

Thankfully the community MWs who came to the house were great, and we also paid for a LC to snip tongue tie, so had support. DS is now 4 weeks and most of the bf support groups close over Christmas...

VeryPunny Wed 31-Dec-14 13:35:28

Of = off!

tiktok Wed 31-Dec-14 13:50:04

Got it, squizita. Thanks. Have checked. Clearly an error - the word advice appears only in a few individual posts from the moderator not in the permanent blurb. Needs to change, though. Am on to it smile

Innocuoususername Wed 31-Dec-14 14:00:48

I agree with pp that it would be best to check the commitment required before embarking on the training.

Also, while it may be possible to do evenings and weekends on the post natal ward, I'd think really hard about this. It is possible to do this in my area, but even really experienced peer supporters find it tough. It really is the sharp end of things and you may find that at evenings and weekends you don't have the support of specialist feeding midwives. In the 10 weeks of training peer supporters are basically trained to listen and support, and to deal with straightforward positioning and attachment issues. Anything out of the ordinary should be flagged up to somebody more experienced. In the baby cafe set up you are always working alongside a lactation consultant or similar who will take the more complex cases: if you are thinking of fitting in your volunteering outside this you need to be happy with the level of support and backup that will be available to you, particularly as a newly trained peer supporter.

Not trying to put you off btw! It is an immensely rewarding thing to do. But you as a volunteer need to be supported too.

Lucyannieamy Thu 01-Jan-15 09:34:57

Thank you all for your help. I am still thinking I would like to volunteer but will speak to the co-ordinator. The points that doing time in the post-natal wards out of hours would be hard because of lack of other support around is something I hadn't considered, and I think this is probably what I would be put down for with the hours I can do, based on the information I've had so far. I don't want to become a lactation consultant and do understand the difference from what they would provide. I guess I was seeing myself helping out by just being able to say "yes that happened to me and yes you can get through it"
Thanks again

NotQuiteCockney Fri 02-Jan-15 10:59:51

Wouldn't it make sense for the peer supporters to be supervised by the NCT throughout their volunteering? I've never understood that. At least one of the other bf charities has ongoing supervision as a requirement for remaining registered.

tiktok Fri 02-Jan-15 11:21:17

Of course, Nqc. But who will pay for it? Supervising means paying the supervisors and their expenses.

NotQuiteCockney Fri 02-Jan-15 12:32:04

In the other breastfeeding charity, it is part of the expense of running a bf project.

In some boroughs, paid workers are expected to remain active charity volunteers, in others they do reflective practice, but either way ... It is far too easy to drift into giving advice (or to fail to keep up to date with current best practice).

Sorry for being vague by the way - if I am explicit about my charity involvement, then posting here gets tricky for me, I've been told.

tiktok Fri 02-Jan-15 15:44:40

It's complicated, NQC smile

If the peer supporters are volunteering at a baby cafe, NCT still has quality control and maintains oversight of the group inc watching for poor practice.

This is because NCT is the umbrella organisation of Baby Cafe.

Other peer support programmes are independent of NCT, and the supervision reverts to whoever is in charge of the programme, after a year.

Sometimes they will continue to pay for NCT supervision. Sometimes they don't.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: