We offer training to become an ABM Mother Supporter and an ABM Breastfeeding Counsellor and can provide support and information for health professionals.
“It is our aim to promote the physical and psychological health of mothers and children through education in the techniques of breastfeeding and to advance the education of the public, especially those persons concerned with the care of children on the health benefits of breastfeeding, both immediate and long term” (extract from our constitution)
The Association of Breastfeeding Mothers (ABM) is a voluntary organisation founded in 1979 by a group of mothers experienced in breastfeeding counselling. Charity status was awarded to the organisation in 1980 and the Association continues to grow steadily throughout the UK.
Members of the ABM are mainly mothers who are breastfeeding or have breastfed their children in the past. Some breastfed easily without problems and some have experienced varying degrees of difficulty. Other members include supportive health professionals such as midwives, health visitors, lactation consultants and GPs.
Information from various sources confirms that having good breastfeeding education and continued support greatly enhances the experience for mothers and babies and increases the numbers of people who breastfeed successfully.
Our training courses
- Mother Supporter
- Breastfeeding Counsellor
- Supporting the breastfeeding mother and baby: Foundation level
- Supporting the breastfeeding mother and baby: Advanced level
- ABM Breastfeeding Course (groups)
- Antenatal breastfeeding workshops
Mother Supporter training
£25 (plus membership fees)
Mother Supporters are positive role models who support and encourage local mothers with straightforward breastfeeding relationships, as a well informed friend. A Mother Supporter would only be helping others in a voluntary capacity, so this course is not valid for those working in a paid role or as a doula for example. Mother Supporters do not offer counselling or detailed breastfeeding information for solving problems; however they can put a mum in touch with her nearest breastfeeding counsellor.
Mother Supporters complete a short home study course to highlight certain areas of breastfeeding – this is also a prerequisite for full counsellor training if you later decide to move on to that. If you are not sure whether breastfeeding counsellor training is for you, consider beginning by doing the Mother Supporter training.
All Mother Supporters must have breastfed (not necessarily without problems) for at least six months. Mother Supporters are expected to keep up to date by maintaining ABM membership and reading the ABM magazine.
All trainees are required to complete our Mother Supporter module before applying for our Breastfeeding Counsellor training.
Breastfeeding Counsellor training
£100 (plus membership fees)
After successful completion of the Mother Supporter module to a satisfactory standard, you can apply to train as a Breastfeeding Counsellor.
The ABM Breastfeeding Counsellor training is based around eight modules, which are all completed by home study and are posted for assessment. There is then a six month, supported, probationary counselling period. Our counsellors tell us how rewarding it is to be able to listen to the concerns of breastfeeding mums and be able to offer help and reassurance.
The training programme includes anatomy and physiology, the management of breastfeeding, assessing and evaluating problems and how to resolve them with counselling and listening skills; there is also a practical breastfeeding observation to complete and practice telephone counselling with tutors which prepares trainees for offering appropriate information and support on the helpline.
The modules contain short answer questions, including scenarios covering counselling and listening skills and practical work. The course is demanding and therefore not suitable for anyone already engaged in further learning e.g. Open University or midwifery courses. Attendance at regional workshops and study days are strongly recommended.
All Breastfeeding Counsellor trainees have a regional supervisor, who will support them throughout training and beyond. Trainees with email can access further support throughout their training through our discussion group for trainees and counsellors.
Breastfeeding Counsellor training takes approximately two years to complete in addition to the time taken to complete the mother supporter module. Training is flexible so that study can be fitted around family life, and there are no required weekends away or set dates for study sessions. We recommend that each module is completed within eight weeks.
After training, an ABM Breastfeeding Counsellors is expected to remain a counsellor for at least two years and offer telephone counselling through our helpline in their own homes. During training you will be required to sign a contract agreeing to this and to abide by the ABM’s code of conduct. In order to remain a Breastfeeding Counsellor, ABM membership subscriptions must be paid promptly and you should attend either an approved study day or complete a revision module every year. Regular communication with regional coordinators and supervisors is also required. The ABM is a mother-to-mother organisation and the role of a breastfeeding counsellor is not normally suitable for those in a paid health professional or breastfeeding role. However, it may be possible for a mother in a paid position to train as a breastfeeding counsellor if they demonstrate their strong commitment to fulfilling their voluntary responsibilities and appreciate the need to separate their voluntary work from their paid role. You can read more about the training options we offer doulas here.
Supporting the Breastfeeding Mother and Baby: Foundation Level
£200 (including first year’s membership fees)
This course is suitable for those in a paid role e.g. doulas and children’s centre workers and can be offered as a course or a postal module depending on individual circumstances. This course is not a breastfeeding counsellor qualification but does encourage a broader scope of study and research that will give you a deeper understanding of how breastfeeding works and a good foundation to further your breastfeeding education. The cost of this course includes one year’s membership fee and includes support during training. If you are in a paid role your employer would be responsible for ongoing supervision. You do not need to have breastfed yourself to complete this course.
Supporting the Breastfeeding Mother and Baby: Advanced Level
£750 (including 2 years’ membership fees)
If you are interested in advancing your knowledge in breastfeeding support but you do not wish to train as an ABM breastfeeding counsellor (or you do not fulfill the criteria) you may be interested in completing this course. The course is suitable for those who may not have breastfed at all. You will be assigned a supervisor who will give you help and support throughout your training. The cost of the course includes two years of ABM membership and is completed through home study. It takes approximately two years to complete. Although the course covers much of the content from our breastfeeding counselling course the candidate would be unable to refer themselves as an `ABM breastfeeding counsellor´ at the end of the training. They would also be unable to answer calls on our helplines.
ABM Breastfeeding Course (groups)
The ABM has offering breastfeeding training for over 30 years and we were the first organisation to offer this type of training. Our Breastfeeding course, usually on your own premises, is delivered by qualified breastfeeding counsellors who are also experienced facilitators. Well trained breastfeeding supporters, who have developed good listening and communication skills and who are aware of confidentiality and boundaries, can be a valuable asset to managers when working towards breastfeeding targets.
We strongly recommend that they have adequate support and supervision and are not expected to work outside the scope of their training, knowledge or experience. ABM-trained breastfeeding supporters will have supervision for at least a year after the course is completed. A typical course consists of eight sessions of two hours each. We can tailor courses to meet your needs, so please contact us for more information.
Our breastfeeding training course is in line with UNICEF BFI and NICE guidelines.
Antenatal Breastfeeding Workshops
These can be provided directly to mothers by our trained Breastfeeding Counsellors and tutors on behalf of PCTs or the ABM can provide training and an annual licence to health professionals trained in its use.
Applying for training
Contact our training team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or write to us: ABM, PO Box 207, Bridgwater TA6 7YT