Pam’s Prize 2013

Breastfeeding counsellors from all over the UK are nominated for our annual award. Nominees can be ABM breastfeeding counsellors, NCT breastfeeding counsellors, La Leche League leaders or Breastfeeding Network supporters.

The Association of Breastfeeding Mothers is proud to announce that the 2013 winner of our national award recognising the work of breastfeeding support volunteers – Pam’s Prize – is Amanda Dunbar of Washington, Tyne and Wear.

Amanda started out as a peer counsellor and then became a leader with La Leche League nearly 6 years ago. She set up the La Leche League Tyne and Wear meeting with fellow leader Alison Logan. Amanda became a Board Certified Lactation Consultant in 2010. She coordinates breastfeeding peer support in Sunderland alongside her voluntary work for La Leche League and supports mums from across the North East.

Amanda is a mum of four and her children are aged 21, 16, 13, and 8 – two girls and two boys. She describes herself as “married to John with 1 dog, and an allotment”!

Amanda was formally awarded the prize on the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers conference 2013 in Birmingham.

Hi Amanda. Huge congratulations on winning this year’s Pam’s Prize. How do you feel about your award?

Shocked, surprised and honoured that I was even nominated.

What first inspired you to train as a breastfeeding volunteer?

When I had my first daughter 21 years ago last week, I only managed to breastfeed her for 2 weeks. I had sore and cracked nipples and could not cope. I got better with my boys. With my youngest child I was told to go along to a support group by my midwife. I did and I wish I had gone with all of my children.

I discovered if I got the right support then I could succeed and I did.

This is why I became a breastfeeding counsellor, so that a mum does not have to give up because of lack of information and support.

How is the support given from a breastfeeding volunteer different from the support a mum might get from her midwife or other health professional?

Because sometimes, health professionals just don’t get it. Breastfeeding is not just about feeding a baby, it is about so much more. Only a mum who has felt the pain, experienced the doubt and then felt the sense of pride you get when you have fed you baby and your baby grows and develops can you truly understand what ‘it’ is all about.

What do think are the features of a good breastfeeding support group?

Relaxed and informative, giving information but not advice so that mums can reach their own solutions. There are so many tools in the breastfeeding toolkit, that you cannot do a “one size fits all” approach. I think having mums and babies of all ages helps and gives a wealth of experience.

Why do people normally come to your groups?

Quite often I see mums when they have seen everyone else and I am their last resort. If I can help them then they start coming to groups initially to see me but then as they meet other mothers they make friends and find it is a way to normalise breastfeeding.

What would you say to a pregnant mum if she wasn’t sure about whether to breastfeed?

Firstly I would say, ” Just try it for the first feed and give your baby its first immunity boost.” Then I would say she needed to get as much information and ask as many questions as she can. I would also suggest if she wanted to try breastfeeding, make sure she had a good support network around her, knowing where to ask for help. Also I would say, do not be afraid to ask for help.

I would suggest going along to groups to ask mums their experiences and I would say to them that is it hard work but it is worth is and it does get easier.

What are your plans for the future?

I would like to get into research and expand knowledge of breastfeeding further, the better informed mothers are, the more they have a chance of success.

Nominees described Amanda as ‘an absolute rock of support’. One said, “She eats, sleeps and breathes breastfeeding. Amanda is truly passionate and has inspired me to train as a peer supporter and hopefully beyond so I can one day give that help to other mothers.” Another said, “What I really want to thank her for is her unrelenting support she has given me since I was diagnosed with cervical cancer and then leukaemia.”

It’s clear Amanda inspires others and goes out of her way to offer practical and emotional support to breastfeeding mums and families throughout her area.

 

If you want to find out more about our first Pam’s Prize winner (2012) click here.

About Pam

In November 2010, our chair Pam Lacey passed away. Pam had touched the lives of countless families but also encouraged many other women to train and go on to support others with her infectious humour, wisdom and determination.

Pam’s Prize was set up in her memory. It is a way to give recognition to the way volunteer breastfeeding counsellors make a difference to so many families in their time of need. We wanted to celebrate those who go the extra mile as Pam did.