Nicola Clemance

25th August 2010

NicolaClemanceThis is my story of how I managed to successfully breastfeed my two children and become a milk bank donor against the odds and completely surprising hospital staff.

I am 37 years old and have been married for 14 years and am the very proud Mum of two beautiful healthy children, Jacoby and Jasmine. When I was a small child of 3 months I was very badly scalded with boiling water on the left side of my chest over the breast and left arm area. I spent my entire childhood and teenage years having surgery and skin grafts. The damage I suffered also affected my left arm and prevented me from having full movement consequently I needed many “release” operations to improve my mobility At 16 I had an implant on my left breast area to balance up my 36DD right breast.

Having discussed my wish to be a wife and breastfeeding mother with the Consultant who performed the surgery he placed the implant under my breast tissue on the left side of my chest avoiding the nipple. The nipple was already damaged by the scald and was covered in scar tissue. I was told that the likelihood of me breastfeeding from this breast would be very unlikely. But I proved them wrong.

I have managed to breast feed my two children successfully although it wasn’t without its difficulties. With my first child I struggled with attachment and pain as the breast was so uncomfortable. A friend who is a midwife came to help me at feeding times with supportive advice and encouragement. I was determined to succeed and my perseverance paid off as I fed Jacoby for 18 months without him ever having a bottle.

I expressed my milk from 4 months and used the stored milk for his porridge and other meals during his weaning. Sadly I had no knowledge of milk banks and ended up throwing away many ounces of milk which I never used. During my second pregnancy I heard about milk donating and followed the links from Google and found the Chester Milk Bank. Once I was fully breastfeeding my second child I contacted the Chester Milk Bank with some trepidation as it is not every day you talk to a complete stranger about your breastfeeding especially when not everyone finds it acceptable conversation.

I spoke to Lynda Coulter and explained my situation and she was very positive about me becoming a donor. I advised her of my needle phobia but when I thought that if I could help a little baby have a fighting chance then it was worth overcoming my phobia. So I can now say that I am a proud milk donor and I found the staff at the milk bank very pleasant and supportive.

The process of becoming a donor is very simple as you are sent everything you need to become a donor, including bottles, freezer thermometer and paperwork. I find the evenings the best time to express so I alternate by expressing for Jasmine one night and the milk bank the next. I am constantly telling the people I meet about the Milk Bank and am always amazed it is so little known about. It will have been very heartening and well worth writing this resume about my experiences if just one person becomes a donor from having read this.

My message to anyone reading this is that if I can breastfeed my children and express milk against all the medical odds then I believe it should be achievable for most women.