The Association of Breastfeeding Mothers is proud to announce the 2016 winner of our national prize recognising the work of breastfeeding counsellors from across the UK. Pam’s Prize is now in its fifth year and was set up in memory of Pam Lacey, our former chair, a breastfeeding counsellor that always went the extra mile, helped thousands of families and inspired many women to train in breastfeeding support.
Our winner this year is Veryan Conn from Frome, a La Leche League Leader who supports mums from the Somerset area.
How does it feel to be nominated by mums you have helped and recognised for your work?
It’s great; particularly to know that what I do is so appreciated and is really helping families. On the other hand I do feel a bit embarrassed because I know that there are lots of other volunteers out there who deserve the recognition just as much as I do.
What first inspired you to train as a La Leche League Leader?
I have a friend who was a La Leche League Leader in South Somerset when I was starting a family. She supported me when my first son was born a month early. I learned so much from her about breastfeeding and mothering and decided that I would like to be able to support mums the way she had supported me.
What do you think makes a good breastfeeding support group?
I think that the two things that mums appreciate about the Frome Group are firstly having a breastfeeding related topic to talk about each week, at least for part of the time, and secondly having some “regular mums” at most meetings. They remember what life was like with a new baby and they get involved in discussions in a supportive and encouraging way. Having said that, I am sure that there isn’t a “one size fits all” breastfeeding group.
Why do mums normally come to your group?
Initially mums usually come because either they have a problem or questions or because they want to meet other mums, especially breastfeeding ones. They have often been encouraged to come by a “regular mum” past or present. I think the mums who come week after week enjoy the companionship and / or finding out more about breastfeeding. They also realise that by being there and by talking honestly about the ups and downs of breastfeeding they are encouraging other mums who are, for example, going through a rough time or are getting unwanted, often contradictory advice from others.
What do you wish all parents knew about breastfeeding before their baby arrives?
Where do I start? Breastfeeding can be challenging to begin with and everyone will want to give you advice, not all of it good advice. So it is important for parents to remember that every mum – baby couple is different, so you need to trust your instincts and only follow the advice that sounds right for both of you and your baby. Don’t “suffer in silence” though, seek help and gradually breastfeeding will get easier, until it is much more straightforward than you ever thought possible.
What are you plans for the future?
The first part of my plan for the future is to have preferably two co-leaders for the Frome Group. The second part of it is to run occasional “toddler meetings” where mums who are still breastfeeding can get together to support each other and exchange ideas. The third part is to run occasional “couples meetings” aimed at expectant parents / new parents. The fourth part of my plan is to organise things so my co-leaders are running some of our regular Wednesday sessions and I can start sliding gradually into “retirement”.
Veryan is our fifth Pam’s Prize winner. If you wish to read about our last year’s winner click here.
Veryan received her prize at the ABM Breastfeeding Conference on Saturday 11th June 2016.