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Volunteer stories: Jo

Baby Umbrella was a lifeline to me and I decided to volunteer because I could maybe support others going through something similar. I have also accepted a voluntary severance package at work due to company restructure, so volunteering has been an opportunity to learn and develop my skills while considering my next career move. It’s been a great addition to my CV when applying for roles.

The Breastfeeding Peer Supporter training was brilliant – it was child-friendly so my daughter came with me and I met lots of other mums while learning about breastfeeding. I have loved volunteering so far – I feel great every time I leave after chatting with new mums, hopefully helping them feel more confident, and also getting the occasional newborn baby cuddle.

My feeding story:

Throughout my pregnancy I had decided to be pragmatic about breastfeeding and see how goes without putting too much pressure on myself. Once my daughter was born I realised how important it was to me and how much I wanted to be able to breastfeed. We had a difficult start as it was painful and Katie was slow to regain her birth weight and combined with post-partum hormones I wasn’t in a good way. I spoke with lots of midwives who all said my technique was fine and to keep trying but things didn’t improve for us. I was referred to the infant feeding team but it was a slow process so I visited Baby Umbrella. Baby Umbrella honestly saved breastfeeding for me and my daughter as they were able to refer me to the tongue tie clinic at Tunbridge Wells Hospital where we got a tongue tie division.

My first feed after the division was difficult as my daughter wasn’t sure how to use her tongue, but once we got a latch it felt so much better. It wasn’t an instant fix as in a way we were back to square one and learning how to breastfeed – some feeds were better than others and we struggled at night when we were both tired. I couldn’t say exactly when things turned for us but at some point I realised that we had worked it out and we were feeding well. Baby Umbrella also supported me during that re-learning process. My only goal was to breastfeed for six months but after a pretty awful start, somehow we are still going at 13 months!

Stories of early parenthood

One of the things parents often say when they’ve recently had a baby, and even more so when they've had a difficult journey, is why did nobody tell me that this was going to be so hard? Why did nobody tell me the truth about breastfeeding, or birth, or sleep, or the emotional transition, or the physical recovery? If I'd have known some of this, I could have prepared myself... and maybe I would have known better if something was wrong.

We'd like to start to tell some of these stories. Every story you will hear here is unique, but it can still be helpful when you’re going through a difficult experience to realise that you’re not the only person who's been through this, that someone else has been here before.

So we want to open up the floor to you all and give anyone who would like to a chance to tell their story of early parenthood - both the joyful parts and the challenges you faced. Not just the shiny story on Instagram or Facebook but the truth of the things that were beautiful and delicious and wonderful as well as the difficult things, the things you might have struggled with, the things you miss from your old life, the things you regret or you wish you'd known.

If you’d like to contribute to our stories of early parenthood we would be really happy to hear from you. Please email or message us and we would be delighted to hear from you.

We hope you enjoy the series and do let us know what you think.

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