Life as a Doula, Journey of a Woman

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Among the Grandmothers


Last night I went to a Christmas dinner organised by the hospital trust where I volunteer in the breastfeeding drop-in clinic. It was an amazing occasion, with awards for long service going to lots of people for their various work.  Two of the women there, one sitting next to me, had received MBEs for their contributions.  I was in awe of these folk who felt moved by something other than money to devote a portion of their time regularly to do what mattered to them.

Around me were several women in their late sixties, seventies and eighties.  We introduced ourselves to one another and talked about what we did at the hospital.  And then that thing that always happens when I tell women that I work with breastfeeding mums and their babies happened.  There's a little pause, then one will ask me a little more about the work.  Then their stories start.  What always strikes me is that their stories are so fresh, some so raw still.  If I saw them written, I might think that this mum was recalling difficulties she had feeding a baby still in her in arms, not a baby who is now her 50 year old daughter.

Two things I take away from last night.  One, women feel their birth and breastfeeding stories for the length of their lives.  Two, Annie Kennedy and Penny Simkin were so right when they noted that women's strongest feelings in relation to their birthing experiences, negative or positive, focus on the way they were treated by their caregivers.

These helplines are available if you need to speak to a breastfeeding counsellor in the UK:

ABM 0300 330 5453
NBFH 0300 100 0212 
NCT  0300 3300 771
LLL 0845 120 2918
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