How a Milk Spot changed my life - Natalie Moore
Like all parents-to-be, I had a vision of what life would be like when my baby finally arrived. Needless to say, the vision I had in my head had very little in common with the reality.
I felt shell shocked. It wasn't just the exhaustion and soreness after the birth, or the lack of sleep once my son arrived, it was that feeding was not going well. My son was hungry all the time, awake all the time and breastfeeding was agony. I had my heart set on breastfeeding and I felt totally miserable at the idea of giving up.
My brilliant midwife saw how difficult things were and suggested that I visit a breastfeeding café (also known as a 'Milk Spot'). I had no idea what to expect – happy mum’s breastfeeding and drinking coffee while I sobbed in the corner? I wasn't sure. But I was determined to keep breastfeeding so somehow I got my son and I dressed and on the bus the next morning.
Visiting the breastfeeding café changed my life. I didn't find a room full of women drinking latte’s, instead, I found a midwife and a volunteer helping other new mums with a variety of feeding issues. They were gentle and kind, non judgmental and full of experience. I returned for many weeks until I was able to breastfeed without any issues. Life changing!
Visiting the Milk Spot was also life changing in another sense. I was so grateful for the amazing support I had received, I wanted to help other mums going through the same thing. Several months later, I went online and found that there was a breastfeeding peer support training course about to start in Lambeth and so I signed up and was invited to attend.
The training was absolutely brilliant – and totally free. With about eight other women, I attended a weekly training session at a children's centre for about 12 weeks. We were provided with crèche facilities for our children, which really helped us to focus on what we were learning. We learnt about breastfeeding, of course, but we also learnt other useful skills such as listening and empathising. It's not an exaggeration to say that these skills have genuinely changed the way that I interact with others, even my friends and family – an unexpected consequence of the training for sure. I had only expected it to be about breastfeeding itself, but of course volunteering with others is about so much more than that.
Once my training was over, I started volunteering with two midwives at a Lambeth children's centre. I felt nervous to begin with as I wasn't entirely sure how helpful I might be to them. The midwives were so supportive, as were the mums I was volunteering to support, I loved just being there as someone to listen. It sounds like a small thing but it can make a huge difference to someone going through a tough time.
I have now been volunteering as a peer supporter for over four years. I have received lots of ongoing training and support, which has great for my own personal development. That feels really satisfying, but the truth is that I get so much out of interacting with other mums that it has never felt like a chore.
However, as my children are getting a bit older, I felt like a needed a new challenge. I found out about a breastfeeding peer support job coming up at LEAP. I applied for the job and got it. So here I am!
It feels really exciting to be going back into work again after being at home for a number of years. It also feels brilliant to be doing something that I care deeply about. I definitely wouldn't have got the job if it hadn't been for my volunteering experience and the training that I received around it.
You see? Life changing.