A group of women have created their own breastfeeding support group after looking for one and finding the area lacking.

Kingsbridge Nurslings has been established by Steph Pope, Mel Showler, Claire Beagley, Laura Dunton, Zoe Gilbert, Caroline Bright, Jessica Bell and Alice Butterworth and will hold their first meeting later this month.

Steph said: “Since the closure of the Kingsbridge Children’s Centre three years ago, there has been no easily accessible support for mums in a whole raft of areas, including support with feeding our babies.

“The closure left the Kingsbridge and Salcombe area in a support service ‘black hole’ with the nearest services being in Plymouth, Torbay or Exeter.”

A post on social media asking for any local breastfeeding support groups in Kingsbridge or nearby threw a light on the fact that there were none.

Steph continued: “Having each experienced issues regarding breastfeeding ourselves, myself and some of the other mums who responded to the post jumped at the opportunity to form our own group, in order to provide the support to our community that is clearly so desperately needed.”

Steph contacted the newly-formed Dartmouth Nurslings, run by Jessica, Emily, Zee and Lisa and they “immediately offered their wholehearted support in getting a Kingsbridge-based group up and running”.

She continued: “Without hesitation they allowed use of their name, logo, branding and resources. Our Kingsbridge based group will be Kingsbridge Nurslings with the Facebook group – Dartmouth and Kingsbridge Nurslings.

“We are joining forces to fundraise, which will enable our volunteers to undertake an accredited Peer Support course. This will enable both groups to provide evidence-based information for a higher level of breastfeeding support.

“Our aim is to provide a safe space for mums to come along for free, friendly and non-judgmental breastfeeding support, run by mums for mums. Everyone is welcome, from bump to newborns, to older nurslings, whether the mum is exclusively breastfeeding or giving any amount of breastmilk.

“Dads and other supportive family members and friends are also welcome. In time we hope to be able to offer the loan of breast-pumps and slings.

“Kingsbridge Nurslings will be a group for moral support with any complex difficulties such as slow weight gain, tongue tie, mastitis or thrush being signposted back to the mother’s midwife, GP, health visitor or other relevant specialist.

“Breastfeeding is the biologically normal way of feeding our babies and encouraged by the NHS following the WHO guidelines that ‘mothers should exclusively breastfeed babies for the first six months until the children start eating solids, then supplementary breastfeeding is encouraged up to two years and beyond’.

“Yet breastfeeding is a learned skill for both mum and baby and there is very little support provided by the NHS to enable mums to breastfeed successfully if this is the way they choose to feed their babies, something which is reflected in the UK’s dire breastfeeding statistics and a direct consequence of the severe cuts to funding over recent years.

“We feel strongly that we want to be able to support mums to breastfeed for as long as they wish to do so.

“Myself, Laura, Claire, Zoe, Mel, Jessica and Alice at Kingsbridge Nurslings are extremely grateful for the support shown to us so far, particularly to Jessica, Emily, Lisa and Zee at Dartmouth Nurslings for all of their help and guidance to date and for allowing us to share their vision of providing a much-needed breastfeeding support service to local mums and their families.

“We are equally grateful to Caroline and the team at the Kingsbridge Family Church for allowing us to use their space and facilities free of charge.

“It is said that it takes a village to raise a child, something which so many parents lack in today’s society and culture and which is compounded by the lack of funding available for much needed support services.

“We hope that by working together to support mums with breastfeeding their babies we can go some way to rectifying this.”

The first meeting of Kingsbridge Nurslings will be held between 10am-12noon on April 24 and then will continue every Wednesday thereafter, at the Kingsbridge Family Church, Fore Street.To donate to their Crowdfunding for funding Breastfeeding Peer Support Training for Dartmouth and Kingsbridge Nursling volunteers, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/breastfeeding