A YOUNG Blackburn couple are spearheading a campaign to get more new mothers breastfeeding.

Parents Ellen Gardner and Damian Whelan have spoken about their experiences and views on breastfeeding to encourage others to find out about the benefits.

Ellen, 18, who has a 13-month old daughter Willow, recently attended a UNICEF Breast Feeding Management course at Queen's Park Hospital in Blackburn.

She now is qualified to give other mums advice and support as a breastfeeding adviser.

This week, May 11 to 17, Ellen and Damian are trying to get the message across as its National Breastfeeding Awareness Week.

She said: "As soon as I got pregnant, we said 'breast was best'. My auntie always said that, and I watched her breastfeed three of her seven children."

"I had trouble at first with soreness and painful cracks so I tried Willow with a bottle at three days old but she wouldn't take it so I had to persevere. I also worried that I hadn't enough milk to satisfy her at first when she was feeding every half hour."

"As well as being better for Willow, giving her breast milk is easier than making bottles which is very time consuming, especially at night."

"Although I have intended quitting breastfeeding at various times, Willow is now 13 months old and I have no plans to stop."

"I attended college full time when Willow was eight days old so I expressed breast milk for her which she accepted. Damian helped me with Willow so I could go to college."

Dad Damian, 19, said: "I am happy that Ellen breastfeeds Willow. I have always felt part of it, cuddling up with them. I'm also able to feed Willow myself using expressed milk."

Ellen's advice to other young mums considering breastfeeding is:

l You get your figure back quicker;

l It is a myth that breastfeeding makes you lose your shape;

l It is natural;

l Breast milk contains beneficial antibodies;

l There are links between formula milk and asthma, obesity and allergies.

East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust is helping to promote the tenth National Breastfeeding Awareness Week, at Queen's Park Hospital, joining the Government's drive to promote breastfeeding as the best form of nutrition for infants.

Sheena Byrom, consultant midwife, said: "Ellen and other mums like her are a wonderful example of how breastfeeding can be successful, even in difficult circumstances."

A focus group is to be established to help ensure all is being done to ensure breastfeeding is made as easy as possible for parents.

The hospital's infant feeding co-ordinator and local Sure Start midwives are organising a roadshow for interested parents-to-be, their friends and family at Hyndburn Stables, Russia Street, Accrington, 1-3pm on Wednesday, and at the Foyer, Feilden Street, and Mill Hill Community Centre, New Chapel Street, Blackburn, from noon-2pm and 1-3pm respectively on Friday.

As well as promoting breastfeeding, the roadshow will be providing information on other baby issues.