Kelly Grehan is a National Childbirth Trust volunteer

PUBLISHED: 11:40 22 May 2008 | UPDATED: 14:50 25 August 2010

Last week was National Breastfeeding Awareness Week.

Last week was National Breastfeeding Awareness Week. This is aimed at raising awareness of the fact that every day a mother breastfeeds her baby makes a positive difference to the health of her child: it helps build the immune system of the baby, reduces the risk of infections and helps the bonding process.

Breast milk continually adapts to the individual needs of each baby, giving all the nutrition he or she needs. However, not all women find breastfeeding easy and many feel unable to do it due to lack of support and guidance. In fact, as many as 90 per cent of women give up breastfeeding before they want to.

The NCT, the UK's leading charity working with pregnancy, childbirth and early parenthood, believes it is vitally important that women are able to access the right support where required.

NCT breastfeeding counsellors are available seven days a week between 8am and 10pm to answer questions and provide support around baby feeding on the NCT Breastfeeding Helpline. A local group of trained counsellors will give one-to-one assistance.

Many mothers benefit from this personal service, as difficulties with feeding leaves them feeling particularly anxious. The right guidance and advice can make all the difference, as mothers are then able to make informed decisions, allowing them to feed their child in the most appropriate way for their family. It is also important that expectant and new mums are supported in other areas. Having a new baby is a uniquely special experience, but it can be hugely challenging. Peer support can make a great difference.

Locally, the NCT runs anti-natal classes, which offer expectant parents a chance to meet new friends, and learn more about childbirth, before this life-changing event.

The local NCT branch number is 0870 4214710. For telephone advice on breastfeeding, call the NCT helpline on 0870 444 8708.

For personal support and guidance from a trained breastfeeding counsellor, contact JudiAnne Sherrell on 01322 287380 or Paula Cave-Ayland on 01322 272490.

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