Meet the Breastfeeding Mums: April
Mum of two, April has been through breastfeeding highs and lows. After giving up early with her first daughter, she was determined to make it work with her second. Almost two years on, they’re still going strong.
April hadn’t given much thought to feeding babies before she was pregnant with her first daughter. Until she spoke to her sister-in-law about the benefits of breastfeeding, she’d just assumed that after a few weeks, her little one would be on a bottle.
Encouraged to give it a go, she started off breastfeeding her daughter, Piper but, after contracting a nasty infection after just nine weeks, she was given an ultimatum by her doctor: take antibiotics to clear up the problem and stop breastfeeding, or carry on feeding through it and deal with a low-lying infection for a long time. April was in a lot of pain so she chose the first option, but it didn’t stop her from feeling cheated out of the closeness with her baby.
Determined to make it work the second time, April went into feeding her youngest, Winnie in a very different frame of mind.
‘Having spoken to other friends and family and seen the recommendations from the World Health Organisation, I was determined to keep going for a year, maybe even two years.’
At 19 months, she’s still going strong, despite persuasion from a nurse to use formula in the first couple of days.
‘Winnie was born by C-section. When we were in hospital, I was having trouble feeding her from the left side - she would only latch onto the right. I remember the night nurse came to ask if my baby was alright because she was crying. I asked if she’d bring me some of the colostrum I’d been harvesting for weeks - for this very purpose - from the freezer. Instead, she wanted to bring me a bottle of formula. I just kept asking for the colostrum….eventually, she brought me both.’
‘I fed Winnie a few syringes of colostrum and she quietened down. When the nurse came back, she said ‘Oh, the formula worked’ but I hadn’t touched it. I was determined not to. If I’d been a first-time mum, I might have listened to her advice and thought ‘She’s right, there’s something wrong with me and something I can’t provide’ but I stuck to what I wanted to do and we’ve continued breastfeeding ever since.’
As a prison nurse, April does long shifts - often 12 hours or more - a couple of days a week. But her work has been fully behind her decision to continue feeding, offering her time and space to express - even if her pump does set the security scanners off every time she goes in and out.
When she started pumping, it was so she could drop an evening feed and her partner could put the girls to bed when she returned to work.
Wren’s hands-free breast pump has given her the freedom to pump in the car on the way to work and on the go while she’s out and about, something she couldn’t do while she was using a pump with wires.
Now she combines pumping with breastfeeding and often pumps more than her daughter will drink. Some mums aren’t sure what to do with a surplus of milk, but not April! After using breastmilk to keep her C-section scar clean and to treat dry skin, she decided to try making breastmilk soap. Now, it’s in high demand from her family too, who swear it works wonders. When she visits them in America, she regularly takes up to 48 bars at a time through customs. Safe to say the security staff get a surprise when they ask about the contents!
For April, the best thing about breastfeeding is the closeness she enjoys with her youngest daughter. But this comes with more guilt whenever she’s away.
‘I’m dreading her dropping her feeds because she’s my last baby and I won’t get to do this again. Instead of her being clingy, it’s me these days! But I love the bond that breastfeeding has given us and I know we’ll still have that.’
How’s motherhood working out for you? What challenges and triumphs have you had while breastfeeding? Share your stories @my_wren.