Hannah & Luna
"When I was pregnant there's a list of things I wanted to do to try and be the best mam I could. I wanted to travel, introduce my baby to different foods, languages, give them everything I could - and breastfeed.
Having never known anyone who breastfed I didn't realise what was in store. I had a brief google search at some point but I assumed that the baby just did its job.
Because Luna literally jumped onto latch when she was born, I was sort of left to my own devices with regards to breastfeeding. The nurses would come every two hours and asked if she'd fed. "Um , every two hours? That's a bit nuts. It's night time now." I was totally unprepared and naive.
On the maternity ward there was a lot of help for the bottle fed babies and I was left to my own devices because she fed so well. Google and YouTube were my 2am, 3am, 4am (you get the picture) friends. I had no idea what a 'latch' or 'position' was. The midwives showed me how to lie down and feed and put Luna on to feed and I was home. My milk came in and then the problems began. Now looking back I realise my latch was wrong because I became painfully engorged, including a milk duct under my arm pit (completely freaked me out!) so I had two Dolly Parton sized boobs and a third boob the size of a tennis ball that appeared to be growing out of my arm pit! I began dreading every feed. Toe curling didn't cover the pain I was in. My husband would sit at the bottom of the bed so when she latched I could kick into him to help with the pain. And I thought this was normal!? You hear it hurts so you carry on. Then came the bleeding nipples during feeds. No one had told me about the super purple nipple cream either! So with cracked, bleeding nipples, engorgement and no sleep in ten days I was close to grabbing the ready made formula when I remembered expressing machines. A 3am google search to find a 24 supermarket and a trip to a friend's, I had a machine. Another google search later (along with Amazon it's my early hours best friend and enemy!) I discovered the Abergavenny Breastfeeding Group. Beth and the girls saved my breastfeeding journey. After amazing advice, she watched my latch and recommend 'biological nurturing' the fog lifted. The pain went, Luna's reflux stopped, no more wind pains and no more engorgement. It was the beginning of the best journey I've ever made. Breastfeeding for me is me of my greatest accomplishments. It's equally the hardest and best thing I've ever accomplished. I had everything against me. More than thirty hours in gruelling labour, exhaustion, latch problems and not being able to walk, sit up or lift a toe for two weeks because of four hours pushing in stirrups after suffering SPD. Thanks to the groups and my husband who had to do everything for those two weeks, we're eight months in and loving it. The bond I have with Luna is unexplainable. The fact that I carried her, birthed her and now have nurtured her totally on my breastmilk amazes me. I've kept this tiny human alive! Not only that but given her the best start in life. I feel it's so important to normalise breastfeeding. You have so much to deal with in those early days, being able to go out and feed your baby is something you shouldn't have to worry about. Being a self employed hairdresser with my own salon I've had to breastfeed in all manner of situations! I've fed a two week old Luna while styling a wedding with bride and her six maids, during a church rehearsal while walking down the aisle, during a wedding and across a field during a fifteen minute walk to the reception, on a ferry and on an aeroplane. If it wasn't for the support I received at the breastfeeding group, and having the confidence to feed with my fellow mam friends at all the coffee shops in Abergavenny I wouldn't have been able to do it. We're always made so welcome at The Coffee Pot and there's always a glass of tap water ready and waiting. I'd hate for the fact that a new mam would be too nervous to feed in public, stop her breastfeeding journey. Normalising the most natural thing in the world is something I'm very passionate about."
Mother Nurture is an ongoing portrait series created to celebrate breastfeeding Mothers. If you would like to take part drop me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org