14 Nov

From new mum to Peer Supporter: BfN volunteer stories

Children wearing 'ask my mum about breastfeeding' topsAs part of our 20th anniversary parliamentary reception in Westminster tonight, two of our breastfeeding supporters will be sharing their breastfeeding journeys from new Mum, to qualifying as Breastfeeding Supporters for BfN. We like their stories so much, we want to share them with you too! So here they are.

Gosia’s story
I’ve always liked to think about breastfeeding in two ways. First one, more personal, related to my own experience and second more social.

I think I’m blessed to have breastfed my children for as long as I wanted. My older daughter for 50 months and going strong with my 15 month old boy.

There were a couple of factors that had an impact on fulfilling my breastfeeding wishes. I gave birth to my babies in this country, which at least partially implemented protective law for breastfeeding couples. Moreover, all women in my family breastfeed and this prepared me for the idea that breastfeeding can be associated with some pain in the beginning, although it shouldn’t be. Also my husband and sister were a great support when I most needed it. Possibly this support was the most important part.

On the social level I hope for every child to be healthy and content. This wish pushed me to take action and promote, protect and support breastfeeding.

A lot of supporters are using the comparison of bike riding and breastfeeding. You don’t know how to ride a bike unless you see someone doing it and then practising. So often I feel like a caring tutor who shows women how to ride, shows which path may be less bumpy, gives options for balancing wheels or a bar and most of all encourages and motivates.

I am grateful for volunteering with BfN, making a difference to individuals and the future generation.

A baby's hand pulling at a mother's topMarion’s story

I became a mother at the young and tender age of 41. Medically, I was considered a geriatric mum. However I thought of myself as a lazy mum because I wanted to breastfeed. There was no way I was going to get up in the middle of the night to prepare a bottle or sterilize equipment when all I had to do was lift my top up and feed my baby. My younger sister prepared me – go through the pain and after 3 weeks it will be fine. I never knew that I could access support.

What I did learn was that my newborn baby cried when I put her down and stopped crying when I put her to my chest. It just made sense to keep her close whilst I was also recovering from the birth. A quiet life in the early days whilst I rest and recover.

I have also read that some cultures stay at home for 40 days and 40 nights, partly to recover from the birth and to build a baby’s immune system. I decided that’s exactly what I should do. I was in no hurry to meet the world.  My world was with me, feeding and sleeping safely together.

I read so many baby books but my maternal instinct kicked in. What do animals do? They keep their young close – cuddly and warm, what I now know as skin to skin. Allow them to feed as often and as much as they want . Babies, when they have access to food can not only feed themselves but control how much they want to eat. All I had to do was to sit and learn how to maximize the best feeding position so that I was comfortable and my baby fed efficiently. In fact that can take from 2-3 days up to several weeks to learn.

I found out that there was a local breastfeeding drop-in run by The Breastfeeding Network a charitable organisation that I could attend on a weekly basis, which I did.

What I never realized at the time was how many other women struggle with breastfeeding and that I could help and support them. After a while I took a course to become a breastfeeding helper, and I was soon helping out at my local breastfeeding drop-in.

I live in Islington and I feel lucky that the London borough of Islington commissioned the Breastfeeding Network to run local breastfeeding drop-ins.  I volunteered for 2 and half years. Soon I found myself on another course training to become a Breastfeeding Peer Supporter and I was then paid to support mothers in both UCLH and Whittington hospital. I was trained to visit mothers at home and qualified to run my own breastfeeding drop-in in Islington.