Tell people that you are training to become a breastfeeding counsellor, and it’s likely you’ll get mixed results.
Some people don’t even know what you are talking about.
Some will tell you about the breastfeeding support that they received, and how helpful (or not) they found it.
And most will probably say, at some point: ‘so, what does that involve then?’
And the answer is, quite a lot actually.
It’s not just a couple of days training, and off you go. In fact, it is a whole year of training, done by distance learning through the University of Worcester supported by regular tutorials and five study days throughout the year. This is then followed by a probationary year during which you continue to attend tutorials, and at the end of which you receive your Licence to Practice.
Things have changed a bit since I started the course almost three years ago (and I’m only just about to qualify!) but essentially, the idea of the course is the same – that by the end of the training, a voluntary breastfeeding counsellor will be able to offer one-to-one support to mothers who have decided to breastfeed, either face to face or on the phone; will have the skills and experience to share ideas and give the mother space to explore how she is feeling and what her options are; and will be able to tap into great support themselves both formally and informally (I’ve met lots of new people and developed some lovely friendships thoughout my training).
And of course, there is the opportunity to learn lots about yourself, about breastfeeding, and about the person-centred counselling model. All useful life skills!
I have found the training really helpful, interesting and inspiring – and a lot more in depth than I ever expected when I first looked into supporting other mothers to breastfeed, just as I needed support when I started my own journey as a mother. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that it is one of the only courses I’ve ever known that allows you to take your baby along to classes with you, something which really helped me to continue with my training even throughout my second – and now my third! – pregnancy and the early months of looking after a young baby.
There is no denying that it is hard work at times too, and of course I have had to put a bit of money into it too. Being a university qualification it does cost a bit – but at the moment, there is good news on that front – because the NCT and the University of Worcester are subsidising the training to bring the cost down from £2,250 to £625. And on top of that, there is the opportunity to apply for a bursary, and help with travel expenses etc.
I’m looking forward to finishing my training at the end of this year, and starting to support mothers in my local area. And I’m really pleased that this new training structure has been developed so that others like me can have the opportunity to study and support people just like I have, for a reasonable fee.
If you’re interested in applying, the next lot of training starts in January and applications need to be in by December 16th. All the information about it is on the NCT website.