What does good support look like?

When looking for good breastfeeding support, you may be confused. There are endless websites and companies claiming to offer advice or support. Furthermore, the titles in breastfeeding and infant feeding support are not protected. So this means anyone can claim to be a breastfeeding counsellor, peer supporter or lactation consultant. So how do you know who you can trust for safe support and evidence based information? Safe breastfeeding supporters will normally be qualified, supervised and also attend regular updates. You can always ask those supporting you about qualifications, supervision & updates.

Peer Support

Peer support is the support from the people around you. Therefore you may get peer support from a friend, relative or someone else close to you. There are also breastfeeding peer supporters who have received training to be able to offer breastfeeding support to their peers. Normally this training is accredited. The aims of breastfeeding peer support can vary depending on the organisation. In Early Nourishment you can find peer supporters at our Nourished Feeding Drop-ins. Our peer supporters have all completed a level 2 qualification in breastfeeding peer support skills through Healthy Babies UK. In addition, they have supervision from our Project Manager who is a licensed breastfeeding counsellor.

Breastfeeding Counsellors

A Breastfeeding Counsellor can offer support for more in-depth issues. The ABM, NCT, BFN or LLLGB are the four charities who offer breastfeeding counselling training in the UK. The training takes around 2-3 years with a requirement to have breastfed their own child for at least 6 months. NCT Breastfeeding Counsellors may hold a foundation degree, diploma of higher education or bachelor degree. In addition, they attend regular update training and have supervision. Breastfeeding Counsellors can offer support with common breastfeeding problems and emotional support. Supervision enables them to explore and reflect on their counselling practice. They should have up to date training so that you receive relevant, safe information. So, to find out whether a breastfeeding counsellor is up to date with their qualifications, ask which of the four organisations they currently volunteer through.

Infant Feeding Clinics

In North Devon & Torridge, we have Midwifery and Health Visitor Infant Feeding Teams. These can offer more complex support for issues. These might include jaundice, suspected tongue-tie and weight loss beyond normal levels. They can offer practical support and information, and may suggest solutions such as an feeding plan. Parents may also wish to access peer support services alongside this service for emotional support. Early Nourishment can refer parents directly to the Infant Feeding Team where necessary. The midwifery feeding team can support parents for up to 28 days post birth. The Health Visiting team can offer support from 10 days post birth.

International Board Certified Lactation Consultants

An IBCLC is a healthcare professional or BFC who has undertaken advanced lactation education and extensive clinical experience. An IBCLC should have a valid certification. They can support parents with any breastfeeding issue including complex situations. If you need IBCLC support, there is normally a fee although sometimes they do work within the NHS.

Online & Telephone Support

There are many organisations offering safe, evidence-based breastfeeding information. These are some of the organisations parents can contact for support:

National Childbirth Trust (NCT): 0300 330 0700

National Breastfeeding Helpline: 0300 100 0212

Association of Breastfeeding Mothers (ABM): 0300 330 5453

La Leche League (LLLGB): 0345 120 2918

Best Beginnings


The BFN Drugs in Breastmilk Service

NHS Choices website

UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative website.

Bliss (for premature and sick babies)

The Cleft Lip & Palate Association

Twins & Multiple Births Association

Down’s Syndrome Association.