My births have never been easy. I have experienced four premature babies all delivered by emergency C sections, months of concern, health worries and the pressure to breastfeed. With my most recent arrival I had to add to this the constant juggling act of being a mother of four – this time I knew that stressing was not going to help or change a thing!
I decided for my fourth baby I was going to do things differently and take each day at a time. I found myself again sitting daily, hourly and counting each minute in the neo natal intensive care praying my baby would take her first breath by herself and come off the ventilator. Amongst the worry I embarked on Expressing Breastmilk to feed to her via a tube, when she was able, which gave me a focus – I had a purpose and could help this tiny bundle of skin and bones to grow. I pumped and pumped day and night and as I’m not an over supplier I found it hard, Breastfeeding was suggested when my daughter was stronger and the thought of it sent me in to panic mode!
I’d never Breastfed!
How was I going to? I’d failed at it with the other three children and it was something quiet alien to me!!
I spoke to a great Breastfeeding Councillor who suggested exclusively expressing so my journey began; we are now four months into it. Initially I expressed 5 times daily and found as a mum to 3 others I couldn’t be tied to the pump indoors – I had to get out and about. However when I started expressing out and about I realised that actually I felt truly isolated. You see mums bottle feeding and breastfeeding but rarely expressing – it seemed frowned upon by some, due to lack of education and this made me nervous. However I rose above my worries and continued doing the best for my baby, but I quickly realised the need for expressing to be normalised. I kept thinking, if I feel like this how many other mums must feel lost also?
I looked into support groups with little success and it dawned on me – I should be the support group!
Fast forward a few weeks and I suddenly found myself at the forefront of the ‘ Brelfie campaign which hit the headlines last month! One day I was sat indoors expressing, the next I was sitting on Sunrise with Eamon Holmes. I was invited along to talk about my passion and the issues associated with feeding your baby in public. I was invited to talk about the need for people to be more aware of expressing and also had an opportunity to explain how women are still frowned upon for showing their Breastfeeding photos, which is just not right.
It very quickly snowballed as I was invited for more TV interviews and radio interviews. I shared my thoughts on expressing and talked about how women should not be made to feel they have to be stuck indoors, it’s normal part of life. Not all babies can breastfeed. Sometimes medical issues, or prematurity, among other things, can cause a delay so expressing is the next best thing, why should we hide away?
At the same time I founded the Facebook page Pump in Public to support women who express/breastfeed. I want to raise awareness of exclusive expressers and to say to mums like me – get your pump, take a stroll and get out – pump away!!! It’s not something that should be kept behind closed doors; it’s a skill and should be applauded.
Now a another month or so on I have kept on at breastfeeding, trying to encourage BlueBelle to latch – I am so happy to say we have had success – I am still expressing a lot, but breastfeeding her also.
Being a mum is the most challenging time of our lives and women do not need to feel isolated anymore, the more people share and talk about their stories the more help there will be for expressing mummy’s x
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