© 2019 by J'Nel Metherell, IBCLC

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Serving Milton Keynes, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Leighton Buzzard, and North Bucks in England, UK

About Me

"The mother-baby relationship is crucial. Thus, how we treat the women who bring children into this world - with honor and tenderness or neglect and abuse - profoundly influences the direction of our society."

                                                                                                                                                      -Suzanne Arms

I'm not great at talking about myself, I'd really rather we talked about you. 😉But I realise you're here to learn more about the person you are considering having support you at such a crucial time in your life, so let me tell you more about my own journey and how I arrived at this point of wanting nothing more than to support you.

Once upon a time, I embarked on a journey to have a baby. I was so excited about the arrival of my baby that I spent months planning all the things that I felt I needed to plan for. I decorated the nursery, I bought, washed and folded the cute little outfits, I bought the pram, I read the popular parenting books telling me how I should do everything if I was to be a good parent, I read the weekly email updates, I bought toys, I wrote a birth plan with the essentials like what sort of third stage labour I wanted, the pain relief I was to have, and I did my pricey bump photo shoot to have some beautiful pictures to remember this time in our lives. Those pictures now hang in our house, and every time I look at them I'm reminded of just how ill prepared I really was. Despite all of that preparation, none of it actually prepared me for the reality of birth and breastfeeding and mothering. I ended up with a high-

ly managed labour and delivery, which resulted in a cascade of interventions affecting, not only birth, but breastfeeding and bonding. It was a very tearful start to what should have been the happiest time of my life. On paper, I had a "good"  birth, so why did I spend the first six weeks of my baby's life feeling detached from the whole situation? Surely the fact that the birth was okay and the baby was healthy was the most important thing, and I should have been grateful for this?

Fast forward two years, I was once again waiting for the imminent arrival of baby #2. I hadn't bothered with the nursery, because I now realised it was a glorified storage room and that the baby would be in with me. I didn't buy any of the other stuff because I already had most things and we'd pretty much been living off one income for too long by this point, so we considered our finances much more carefully this time around. I didn't do the photoshoot, because let's be honest, the second child is lucky to get the photo of their arrival and then there might be a handful of photos taken in the first year.  😆 What I did do, is that I spent months educating myself about birth and the 4th trimester. I went back through my previous experience and I knew I deserved much better this time. I spent my money where I felt I'd get the most value; I hired a birth doula who sat and talked with me. She listened to all that I

wanted and all the things that were most important to me, and what I would and wouldn't allow this time around. We planned things I didn't even realise were of any importance the first time around, like my environment, the smells, lighting, the language that would be used when speaking to me, the volume of the voices in the room. Needless to say, I had the most amazing birth, because I owned it. No one told me what to do and everyone respected my birth space, and my doula made sure of it. I sought support with breastfeeding straight away, and we got things off to a good start. I never experienced the baby blues this time around, and in fact, it took weeks to come down from my high. My son was so settled and life was good.

So what did all of this mean for me? This was my fuel. It fed my fire. I developed a passion for learning the truth, learning the science, learning the risks, and learning about parents' rights. I was able to see that when we are nurtured and given the information we are asking for, we will make the decisions that are best for us, and we will feel better for having had that power over ourselves and our lives. Owning our experiences leaves little room for regret. I wanted to put myself in a position where I could provide up to date information to parents so that they might be able to make the best decision for their family. There is no right or wrong way to birth, nor is there a right or wrong way to parent, there are as many different ways to do things as there are people and families on this earth; it's about finding your groove and what is important to you. But do you know where to start? Do you know where to begin looking for information? Do you even know what information you need to know? If only there were someone you could talk to, someone who might be able to listen and hear what is important to you, someone who might know the questions to ask to get you exploring the pathway you want to travel further down, someone who might be in a position to give you insight into what babies actually need and how to get through those first few exhausting weeks/months of parenting...hmmm...Do you know where you might be able to find someone like that? Perhaps, a doula? Someone specialising in antenatal, birth and postnatal support? 😉

After the birth of my second child I became an accredited LLL Leader, (breastfeeding counsellor) with La Leche League. I spent 5 years supporting parents in a volunteer capacity, whilst working towards taking my IBCLC exam in 2018. I passed the exam and became an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, which is the highest qualification that a person can achieve when offering breastfeeding support and it allows me to support you in the most complex breastfeeding situations. I have chosen to work in private practice, so that I might be able to offer complimentary services to help support the parent-baby dyad.

Something I feel is devalued in our society is the importance of the mother's care when bringing life into this world. In a culture where most parents are isolated, and one of the parents is usually back in full time paid employment within a couple of weeks of the baby's birth, the physical, emotional and mental well-being of the mother can begin to suffer when left to take on this new role without support. Tasks as simple as eating and going to the toilet can become huge feats when you are left on your own with a baby that won't settle. And when that biological urge to make breastfeeding work comes into discordance with the overwhelming urge to run from your baby when it cries from hunger, you can start to question  how you'll  ever manage  being the

parent you envisioned. We need to know that these feelings are normal and that we just need some support to get us through these tricky weeks. Postnatal support for the mother is as important as the support we lavish on the baby. So often I hear mums say that they've spent the whole day doing nothing, just feeding the baby and changing nappies. But nurturing the needs of a growing human is not nothing. It is the hardest job in the world and it's not one that we are meant to do alone. We may not live in the tribal family units of our ancestors, but we do have the next best thing, doulas.  And I feel privileged to be in a position to offer you such an important service and to get to witness families like yours blossoming every day. ❤️