Breast Room marks a decade of support

The Breast Room founder and breast-feeding counsellor Denis Ives (centre) holds the 10th...
The Breast Room founder and breast-feeding counsellor Denis Ives (centre) holds the 10th anniversary celebration cake and is flanked by the first Dunedin mum to use the service, Stacey Smith (left), with Wilfred (2), and founding peer supporter Bushie Calvert. Ms Smith now has three boys, Stanley (9), Albert (7) and Wilfred. PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD
The sterling support given to breast-feeding mums by Dunedin organisation The Breast Room was highlighted at its 10th anniversary celebration this week.

The celebration was a featured Dunedin event during World Breastfeeding Week, August 1-7.

Founded in 2011 by a group of women led by experienced breast-feeding counsellor Denise Ives, the charity focuses on providing a safe and supportive space for breast-feeding mums to get expert help and advice.

Dunedin mum Sam Gittoes and baby Addison (16 months) enjoy The Breast Room celebration. Ms...
Dunedin mum Sam Gittoes and baby Addison (16 months) enjoy The Breast Room celebration. Ms Gittoes was helped greatly by the organisation and has trained as a peer supporter to help other mums.
During Tuesday’s celebration at the Edgar Centre, attended by about 50 women, many with babies and toddlers, Ms Ives told the gathering of the organisation’s humble beginnings in the Methodist Mission’s Wesley St hub.

Over the years, The Breast Room had expanded and moved to other spaces, all while supporting more than 2000 local women to establish successful breast-feeding, she said.

The organisation operated with the support of trained volunteer peer supporters, whose training in Otago and Southland was now funded by WellSouth PHO.

‘‘Our peer supporters go through six weeks of training and maintain an ongoing relationship with us, all for the love of it,’’ Ms Ives said.

‘‘They want to help families get the support they need to have a good breast-feeding journey.’’

Dunedin mums Nell O’Dwyer-Strang (left), with daughter Dasha Plaskey (9 months), and Melody...
Dunedin mums Nell O’Dwyer-Strang (left), with daughter Dasha Plaskey (9 months), and Melody Shanks, with daughter Claire (2), help celebrate 10 years of The Breast Room.
She expressed her appreciation for the health professionals in Dunedin who had the confidence to refer new mums to the service.

Long-standing peer supporter Bushie Calvert, who has been involved in The Breast Room since the beginning, told the gathering that breast-feeding education had become a huge part of her life.

‘‘It is always heartwarming and a privilege to work with mums and babies,’’ she said.

She paid tribute to the work and expertise of Ms Ives.

‘‘Not only has Denise created The Breast Room, she has created a community, which everyone here is a part of.’’

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