You’re probably sick of hearing about World Breastfeeding Week but bear with me, my journey is a little different. Yes I breastfed my three children but that is only a small part of how breastfeeding has affected my life for the past 12 years. Actually if you speak to any mum, every journey is different. It doesn’t matter if you breastfeed, formula feed, combi feed, however you do it, we all have a unique journey.
My eldest son was my most difficult. Reflux meant he was sick several times a day, didn’t put on weight and I constantly questioned myself and if I was doing it right. My second son was a very similar story but sadly he passed away from meningitis at 15 weeks old. Our breastfeeding journey came to a very abrupt end but my own personal story continued. I carried on expressing my milk for months after his death and donated 22,345 mls to Wirral Mothers’ Milk Bank who used it for premature babies. My third experience, with my daughter, was much easier and in total I breastfed my children for six years and five months.
That is only part of my journey though. In November 2007, five months after my eldest son was born, I trained to become a peer support worker. Mum-to-mum support in other words. I didn’t know at that point how many people would reach out to me for help. I had a fantastic mentor and together we went to speak to women who were unlikely to breastfeed. I took my 11-month-old son into a class of Year 11 girls and breastfed him in front of them. I’ve never seen so many shocked faces! Not only was it taboo to them to consider breastfeeding (rates were particularly low in that area) but he was almost one so he was doing nursing gymnastics (on, off, run around, back on again).
I also went to speak to a group of pregnant teenagers who were open to breastfeeding but their families were dead against it. I gave words of encouragement and again a demonstration but I knew they were fighting such a tough battle. I often wonder about them and if they were able to push past those barriers. I can only hope I had some small amount of influence on them.
I became a volunteer at my local Children’s Centre and each week offered advice, help or just an ear to listen to those who needed it. I became an advocate for people who needed help, taking part in local news segments and online support groups.
I’ve always been very vocal on social media about what I have learnt so friends have been able to contact me and I’ve supported them through the tough times. My motto is “my inbox is always open and if I don’t know the answer, I will find a person who does”. Mum-to-mum support is vital and that doesn’t matter how you choose to feed your baby. I would also offer the same support to anyone who was formula feeding.
I’ve been advocating for mums for almost 12 years now and I will continue to do so as long as the need is there. As there are more and more cuts in services we need more people to do the same. Let’s forget the mummy wars and be there for each other. It’s something I feel very passionate about. If you need me, I am always there to listen. Let’s stop the judgement and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
You can visit my blog here at www.yetanothermumblog.blogspot.co.uk