It all started with a baby boy & a breastfeeding counsellor
In 2013 Alice gave birth to her first child; experiencing difficulties with breastfeeding, something which she was keen to do, & having been recommended Hannah’s services by a friend she reached out to Hannah. At this time Hannah herself was also heavily pregnant, but still came out to offer her support at home straight away. Although breastfeeding didn’t go quite as expected for Alice & her baby, Hannah was supportive & non-judgemental; providing Alice with the space to process her experience & ultimately make choices based on what was best for her & her baby.
From there, Hannah & Alice became good friends & started volunteering together in 2014 via the local NCT Branch, with Hannah being a local practitioner & Alice Chairing the branch; both with a passion for support in the perinatal period. At this time they originally trialled a breastfeeding support group in a play cafè in Barnstaple. Sadly the cafè closed and they struggled to find another venue. They decided that moving forward, they needed to make sure they had funds to ensure its sustainability & also the flexibility of being a standalone project rather than part of a national charity.
Listening To The Community
Due to family life and needing to work to get the foundations of this project in place it took until 2018 to get set up as a CIC & feel confident in the governance and structure of Early Nourishment CIC before launching.
Early in 2018 Alice and Hannah started to attend local baby groups, as mothers with young children, and listen to the challenges new parents faced when accessing support with feeding their babies.
A few things became apparent, such as parents wouldn’t attend a breastfeeding group even if they were breastfeeding as they didn’t feel they fit within the stereotype of the breastfeeding mother. Some were combination feeding or exclusively expressing; some dads said they would like to learn more about how they could have supported their partners in the early days and some mums said they would have liked to have been able to bring a friend, their partner or a family member along to a group when receiving support. Alice and Hannah soon realised that their idea of having a ‘breastfeeding support group’ was not what the community wanted. A local parent raised the idea of a feeding group with breastfeeding support if needed, open to all parents and caregivers. This idea was taken back to a number of baby groups and received positive feedback & so the format of our feeding drop-ins was born!
They wanted to make sure the service was fully inclusive & respectful of all aspects of diversity so were keen to have another director on board with this as a passion; Louise is a long time colleague & friend of Hannahs from the NCT with a wealth of experience both personally & professionally in the issues around diversity.