I’m Susannah also known as Susie. I live in Essex with my partner of 14 years and our 2 children. My son was born in June 2019 and my daughter was born in October 2020. I work as a paediatric cancer nurse in London and have done for 11 years.
When I first qualified as a nurse I spent 6 months in NICU. This is where I learnt just how beneficial breast milk is for sick and premature babies, as well as the important role breast milk donations have for families in need. I knew that I would want to breastfeed when the time came to start a family, and I also knew I’d want to donate my milk if at all possible.
When my son Jude was born, our breastfeeding journey didn’t get off to the best start. Jude had a tongue tie and therefore couldn’t latch. My nipples were cracked, bleeding and it was toe-curling painful when he fed. I had mastitis twice and a few block ducts which made me feel like I wanted to give up. However, we finally made it through thanks to support and nipple shields!
Donating my breast milk
I breastfed Jude until he was 11 months old at which point he self-weaned. I was 22 weeks pregnant at the time so no doubt my milk was changing for the new baby. I was also pumping after feeds because my nipples needed a break and so dad could feed. I was so good at it that I had an overproduction of milk. I began donating milk to the Hearts Milk Bank when Jude was just 4 months old.
I began donating milk to the Hearts Milk Bank when Jude was just 4 months old.
Fast forward to October 2020 and my second child Chloe was born. She had no problem latch as no tongue tie etc. I recommenced donating my milk in November 2020 and am still donating now.
I have developed a great friendship with the Hearts Milk Bank team so much so I was invited to their BBQ birthday last summer. We had such a lovely day with plenty of joyful tears. To this date I have donated well over 100Litres of milk and still going. Chloe is 16 months old and still loves breastfeeding. I don’t see us stopping anytime soon.
Back to work on the ward as a breastfeeding/pumping mama
In November 2021 it was time for me to head back to work on the ward. I was so anxious as I have been off since May 2019. I couldn’t go back to work due to being pregnant during the pandemic.
When I am at work I have to get up at 5.30am and then don’t get home until 9.30pm. Thankfully I am only part-time but this is still hard to do. It’s a 12.5 hour shift but a 16 hours day from the time I wake up to the time I get home.
To show my average working day I recently posted a reel to my Instagram account. I pump as soon as a get up and then twice at work and once again when I get home.
To show my average working day I recently posted a reel to my Instagram account. I pump as soon as a get-up and then twice at work and once again when I get home.
A typical day shift for me goes like this
- 0530 wake up
- 0545 coffee and pump
- 0630 cab pick up
- 0640 train to work
- 0745 work handover and duties start which consists of chemotherapy administration
- 1130-1200 first break. Pump and quick bite to eat
- 1500 lunch break if I can fit it in and pump after lunch
- 1900 quick pump (not always possible if ward is busy)
- 1945 handover to night team
- 2020 leave work
- 2115 home, shower and hair wash
- 2200 pump before bed
It’s tough but rewarding
I find it tough being away from my two babies for such a long period of time. It is a challenge being a breastfeeding/pumping mama but a challenge with a great outcome. Plus, I have helped lots of other mums on their breastfeeding and pumping journey, from friends to complete strangers.
I find it tough being away from my two babies for such a long period of time. It is a challenge but a challenge with a great outcome.
Breastfeeding is something I love and when the time comes for Chloe to say goodbye I will be sad but also grateful for those joyful bonding moments.
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