Why infant feeding?

By Ashley Jack (Infant Feeding Advisor)

June the 20th – 24th is Breastfeeding celebration week in NHS Lothian. It’s a time to reflect and celebrate all the wonderful work that has been achieved in increasing awareness, education and changing the culture towards breastfeeding. It is also an opportunity to celebrate the personal achievements of our breastfeeding mums whether that be that they breastfed for one day or two years because every breastfeed counts.

This upcoming celebration has also given me the time to reflect on my own personal journey of becoming an Infant Feeding Advisor.

I have always been passionate in following a career where I could make a difference to people’s lives and health outcomes. I nursed in the hospitals for many years. My aim of becoming a nurse was a product of both my nature and my personal experiences.  I learned the importance of dedication and compassionate care and I have been fortunate enough to have had this wonderful opportunity to develop these skills and grow as a person as an infant feeding advisor.

So why Infant Feeding? After personally experiencing a very difficult feeding journey, full of lots of conflicting advice and very little support with my third child I knew that a career focusing on supporting women to successfully breastfeed was where I needed to be. Over the years of bringing up my own children I have developed a great passion for breastfeeding, building strong and confident children and promoting healthy infant feeding practices. And where better placed could my enthusiasm be pursued than in a career promoting and encouraging everything so close to my heart. Hence where I am sat today.

As an Infant Feeding Advisor I feel I am well placed to make changes that will help women and families in Lothian reach their full potential as well as be supported and encouraged in their breastfeeding journeys.

 I work very closely with the dedicated, passionate and hard working staff in the health visiting teams. They are a truly amazing bunch of people and I am very lucky to have the pleasure of working with each and every one of them. My role as Infant Feeding Advisor is wide and varied- I support Health Visiting staff in all aspects Infant Feeding ensuring they have the knowledge and skills needed to support women and families.  Our infant feeding team support women within Breastfeeding Support Groups, we design and distribute resources to support women to make Informed choices and provide advice and education on varied topics to all NHS Lothian staff, volunteers and the voluntary sector. The job also entails a strategic approach to changing the culture of feeding practices within the Lothian area.

At times the job can feel like a thankless task and it feels like you’re chipping away at a never ending wall of barriers. The long hours and being away from my children for training commitments can feel overwhelming at times. But then I’ll hear feedback from the staff that something our team have put in place, designed or given advice on has made a difference to a mother and her baby. It’s often something so small to me but has helped give mum, baby and the family the strength and resilience to continue breastfeeding when they needed it most. That fills my heart with the most fulfilling joy and pride and reminds me that what I do isn’t thankless at all.

In the two years I have worked within the Infant Feeding Team I have learned alot, it’s fired an even deeper passion within me, it has truly been fantastic. I hope to spend many more years driving forward change in our society and continue to make a difference to women’s breastfeeding journeys one baby at a time.

Success is no accident - its hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, the love of what you are doing.​