© Star photo by Cory Hurley
Irene Barrett, right, with daughter Nadia, has been helping first-time mom Rebecca Milley, and her son Theodore, through peer breastfeeding support.
CORNER BROOK When you’re entrusted with the life of a newborn baby, a life you’ve brought into the world, reassurance can be a wonderful thing.
One of the priorities instantly becomes feeding that little boy or girl, a necessity in order for all those joys of growing up to happen. For the moms who choose to breastfeed — something that’s become more encouraged by healthcare professionals — that can be, and sometimes is, a monumental feat.
Rebecca Milley of Corner Brook didn’t give breastfeeding a second thought. She was raised with the belief it was what to do, and she continues to be surrounded by family and friends who do so. So, when she had her first child, Theodore, just over seven weeks ago, it was a given she would at least try. Her public health nurse told her about the Bay of Islands Organization for Breastfeeding Support (BOOBS) and its peer support network. Given she had some apprehension about breastfeeding, she thought it would be a good idea to sign on.
Milley said she was glad to get a call from the mom she was paired with, Irene Barrett, a couple of days after getting home from the hospital. At that point, she had a number of quandaries about the process — little things she was just not sure of.
“Is it possible he is hungry again already?” being the first of those questions.
“You get a balance to the text books,” Milley said of the peer support. “It’s a wonderful support to have somebody who can tell you what they did and what worked for them.”
For Barrett, the disappointment that came with deciding to stop breastfeeding her first child after five months is still apparent. When Emma was born seven years ago, there was a lot she didn’t know and she didn’t have the support or encouragement to continue. When her milk supply decreased and it seemed there was nothing she could do to satisfy her hungry baby, she gave up.
“I was devastated,” she said. “I was aiming for a year, and I didn’t even get to six months. I appreciated the experience, and I very much wanted to have that for my daughter. Unfortunately, it didn’t pan out.”
Barrett had her second baby, Nadia, six months ago. This time, things are going much better.
She signed up to be a support mom, not only to keep others from quitting or facing problems alone, but to continue learning more about it herself.
“Sometimes it’s really good to know that there’s someone who knows what it has been like,” she said. “Where Nadia is six-months-old, I have just finished going through it. I have a very fresh feel on it.”
As a feminist and a feminist therapist, Barrett tries to make a change when she sees things that are a struggle for women. So, while wanting to help moms, she also wants to change the public perception of breastfeeding.
This is World Breastfeeding Week. The theme, “Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers,” highlights breastfeeding peer counselling.