Motherhood.Adventure.Slow Fashion.Sewing.Womanhood

Thursday, 23 February 2017

A Better Start Southend

Last summer a friend of mine Alex (who blogs over at A Side Order of Me) put a shout out for her friend who was searching for pictures of breastfeeding Mums to use in a local breastfeeding campaign. I sent across my all time favourite picture of me feeding Rori in bed one Sunday morning. One of the rare snaps of me feeding Rori that Rich took. I heard back a little while later that my picture had been chosen and would be used across Southend-on-Sea which was incredible because that's where I was living at the time and where I gave birth to Logan and Rori and attended the local weigh-in clinics and health visitor meeting regularly.

Last week I received a facebook message from Gillian who I would later discover is the lady who was in search of the breastfeeding pictures. She wanted to let me know that the picture of me and Rori had been used in posters and information for a new Breastfeeding Support group. The new group is run by A Better Start and Gillian had this to say on the website for the new group:

A Better Start Southend’s Infant Feeding and Breastfeeding Development Coordinator, Gillian O’Connor says:
“When you first become pregnant there are lots of choices to be made and it can be bewildering, but one of the most important decisions is how to feed your baby. Breastmilk gives babies all the nutrients they need for their first six months of life and you can continue to breastfeed your baby alongside solid foods.  Your baby is less likely to develop infections, or go on to become obese or develop diabetes. Breastfeeding mothers sometimes need support and being able to ask questions in relaxed, friendly sessions like these is vital.”


I couldn't be more proud for my picture to be used in Southend. The early days of my breastfeeding journey with Rori weren't easy, and if it wasn't for people like Gillian who work in the local community, I don't think I would have managed to pull through and come out of the other side.
I remember one occasion in particular, when Rori was around 6 weeks old. She hadn't been latching well, she hadn't been sleeping, she was increasingly unsettled and I was a complete mess. All of the guilt from not being able to breastfeed Logan for long crept back to the forefront, and I felt so panicked that breastfeeding Rori was going the same way. She was having all of the same problems that I faced with Logan. The difference is when I had Logan, I didn't know where to turn to ask for help and I resorted desperately, to formula. Determined to make it work this time around, I headed in a sleep-deprived-manic frenzy to my local baby weigh-in clinic. I almost crashed my car on the way there. I hadn't slept for longer than 45 minutes at a time for 6 weeks and I shouldn't really have been driving come to think of it. I finally got there, wrapped Rori in her sling and went and sat in a full waiting room with tears silently running down my face. I didn't know what to do and I felt like a failure. I remember finding a seat, struggling to sit down with Rori strapped on my front, and I looked down at her tiny face and she was asleep. I let out a sigh of relief and lent my head back against the wall and waited for my number to be called. I had quite a few people in front of me but I didn't mind the wait - this was the most settled she'd been and I was just exhausted. Finally my number was called. I entered the room and went through the normal actions of having Rori weighed etc. I didn't know how to say what I wanted to say. Luckily for me I didn't need to. The health visitor picked up my distress and asked me if I was OK. The flood gate opened and I told her how Rori wasn't feeding properly and wasn't sleeping and was so unsettled all of the time. She listened patiently to my sobs and called in a colleague who took me into her office and asked if she could watch me feed Rori. She gave me some tips, checked for tongue and lip tie, and the most valuable thing was she listened to me. She observed and she understood. I needed support. I needed to know it would get easier and that this was normal. I needed kindness, and I got that by the bucket load.
Honestly, if it wasn't for the kind women at the Thorpedene Clinic that day, mine and Rori's breastfeeding journey would have ended then and there. I am eternally grateful and thanks to them I am still breastfeeding Rori 21 months down the line. I'm so happy that a group specifically for Breastfeeding Support has started, and I know the ladies who run it will be helping so many Mum's, just like they helped me.


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