I wanted to share my experience of why and how I became involved in supporting others with their personal nursing goals.
It all began with my own experience, having unsuccessfully met what I envisioned feeding would look like for my first daughter. She fed well in the hospital and I was thrilled, but when we returned home the next day, the latch became painful and I struggled. Without the right information and support, alongside societal norms to switch to formula when it becomes too much, I did exactly that.
I grieved the loss of breastfeeding with my first-born
Whilst I appreciate that many families may choose to use formula from the beginning or decide to use it later on, and this choice should be theirs without judgement, this outcome was frustrating for me personally. I had not planned to do anything other than to breastfeed.
Later on, when my daughter was around eleven days old, we found out that out that she had tongue tie and this would have been a huge factor in the difficulties we faced nursing at the breast. I definitely grieved the loss of our journey but we nurtured our beautiful bond through responsive feeding, closeness and comfort.
I definitely grieved the loss of our journey but we nurtured our beautiful bond through responsive feeding, closeness and comfort.
During my second pregnancy I was even more determined to breastfeed
When I was pregnant with my second daughter, I was even more determined to make breastfeeding work. I expressed antenatally once it was safe to do so and built up a stash of colostrum in the freezer. We used all of it when she was born as she too, had a tongue tie that affected our feeding. I had to hand express alongside using what I had stored to meet her needs.
The first week of her life was definitely one of the hardest weeks of mine, however, I would say that at around ten days old, we had finally cracked it and she continued to feed until she was approximately three and a half.
I became a breastfeeding peer supporter in 2019
In 2019, I began to support other parents as a peer supporter for ABM (the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers). The training took around twelve weeks to complete and once trained, I began to share information with family and friends who were looking for support and signposted to more qualified individuals where necessary.
Afterwards, I began my eighteen month to two year training course to become a breastfeeding counsellor which enabled me to take calls on the National Breastfeeding Helpline which I have been doing for almost two and a half years now.
I began my eighteen month to two year training course to become a breastfeeding counsellor
Helping breastfeeding families is so rewarding
With the training I have, I am able to support more complex situations and continue to signpost to health professionals, the Drugs in Breastmilk service and IBCLC’s (international board certified lactation consultants) if needed. I have also mentored peer supporters and now volunteer as part of the practice call team, carrying out ‘role play’ based telephone calls to support trainee breastfeeding counsellors.
I have listened to an array of parents share their emotive journeys and felt so rewarded each and every time I have been able to provide a family with useful information or even an ear to listen to what they are going through. Sometimes, I have found, that makes all the difference.