Amy Doran – Mum and the Milk Drop Founder
WUN Advocate Victoria Kirk sits down with Mum and The Milk Drop founder Amy Doran to talk about everything breastfeeding from experience, advice and support, to the UK’s attitude toward breastfeeding.
Learning to feed a newborn baby can be a rewarding and happy experience, but it can also feel isolating, frustrating and confusing. With the UK having the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world, I was keen to sit down with 34-year-old Mum, Nurse and Founder Amy Doran on World Breastfeeding in Public day to discuss her new breastfeeding support group, The Milk Drop, as well as her experiences of breastfeeding and to discuss the stigma surrounding breastfeeding in public.
The Milk Drop is a recently formed support group of five breastfeeding Mums who are passionate about empowering other Mums talking everything babies, boobs and everything in between.
Welcome Amy – thanks for joining me today in celebration of World Breastfeeding in public today!
Firstly, shall we talk through your decision to breastfeed? What made you decide that breastfeeding was the right thing for you?
After a miscarriage and 18 months of infertility, I wanted to somehow prove my body wasn’t “broken”. My body had failed me, but breastfeeding gave me that opportunity to fix that. I think I’d always wanted to breastfeed. My Mum breastfed so I guess I grew up around it too.
When you made the decision to breastfeed, did you set yourself a breastfeeding goal?
My breastfeeding goal was never to feed for this long. I didn’t think I was even going to make it past a week at the very beginning so I set myself short term goals – 1 month, 3 months, 6 months and then before I knew it, we’re at 18 months! At the minute this works for us and I’m happy to continue.
What do you think the hardest part of breastfeeding is and how did you overcome it?
The hardest part of breastfeeding was getting started. The first week or so was really hard. I think I fed her more tears than milk. I think determination and perseverance are important as well as finding the right support.
Given that it is World Breastfeeding in Public Day, let’s talk about your experience of breastfeeding in public? How did you feel?
I have always felt pretty confident when feeding in public. It’s obviously pretty daunting when you first start because it’s something you’ve never done before but the more I did it, the more confident I felt.
Why do you think there is such a stigma around breastfeeding in public?
I think there’s so much stigma as there’s a huge lack of education and value placed on breastfeeding in our society. In the western world, there’s also a big gap in generational knowledge being passed down resulting in women not seeing breastfeeding growing up which leads to a lack of awareness and understanding. It seems insane that people go to a farm and see calves suckling from cows and think it’s cute yet when a woman uses her breasts to do the job they were designed to do that is deemed inappropriate and disgusting. Mums who breastfeed aren’t doing it to be sexual or for attention, they are merely meeting a child’s basic needs. The same as giving your child a piece of fruit on a bus.
Has anything in particular surprised you about breastfeeding?
I hadn’t realised how much of an emotional bond breastfeeding creates. It’s now such a key part of our relationship. It’s nice to sit and reconnect throughout the day. I love how I am her safe space when the world gets too overwhelming.
What inspired you to start your breastfeeding support group, The Milk Drop?
The Milk Drop was started after realising how imperative good support and education surrounding breastfeeding are and seeing a complete lack of it.
The Milk Drop held their first support event earlier today to support World Breastfeeding in public day, what was your aim as a group with this session?
The first ever World Breastfeeding in Public Day was set up by a woman called Destiny Smith. The day is to inspire women to feed with confidence in public. We want to empower breastfeeding Mums to feed unapologetically whenever and wherever their babies need feeding. The event was more of a success than we ever imagined. We had a turnout of around 40 women come along – some even drove from Manchester to join us!
Do you have any advice for working mothers who want to go back to work whilst breastfeeding?
As I haven’t actually returned to work, I asked this question to co-founder Claire Donafee, one of the members of The Milk Drop who said “Returning to work after maternity leave is challenging for most Mums but adding in breastfeeding can lead lots of Mums to worry. However, it’s more difficult for Mum than it is for baby. Babies quickly adapt and you soon get into the swing of things. My advice would be to speak to your workplace before your return, explain that you are breastfeeding and plan to continue so will need to take time out of the day to pump. Arrange a suitable place where you will feel comfortable to pump and find out where you can store the milk once pumped. Milk can remain out at room temperature for up to 6 hours. With a plan in mind it seems less daunting and you’ll soon be looking forward to getting home from work for those milky cuddles whilst building up a freezer stash for whilst you’re away.”
If you could give new mothers one piece of advice, what would it be?
Make informed decisions that work for you and your family. Your baby, your business!
If there are any new mothers out there who want support, how can they access The Milk Drop support group? Will you be considering online groups as well as face to face?
The Milk Drop are always happy to support Mums – our group is a free, confidential, safe space for all Mums! We are currently looking at setting up more regular sessions with plans for both online, face to face sessions and we are also exploring a WhatsApp group. We also offer support and questions via our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages. We are @themilkdrop_ on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.