Navigating Life with a Babe on the Boob: Meet The Breastfeeding Mentor
Author, blogger, educator, and mama Danielle Facey earned her title of "The Breastfeeding Mentor" during long days and nights with her rainbow baby, a voracious feeder and a contact sleeper whose wakefulness and frequent feeding left Danielle confused, feeling drained, and needing help.
As the first mother in her immediate family to breastfeed, Danielle struggled to find advice from her loved ones but was determined to not cut her breastfeeding journey short. A teacher and psychology graduate, Danielle threw herself into research and education about breastfeeding; a yogi, she applied principles of yoga and meditation to her nursing journey.
Soon, she began blogging during her son's frequent feedings, connecting with other mothers and providing breastfeeding support, encouragement, and knowledge. "The Breastfeeding Mentor" was born; Danielle now strives to normalize breastfeeding infant behavior so that mothers everywhere feel empowered to make informed choices for themselves and their families.
Tell us a bit about yourself, and the current season you are in as mama to your rainbow baby boy, breastfeeding educator, and community and conversation facilitator. How did you arrive here?
Danielle Facey: I found myself in this role through overcoming own challenges as a new mum who was trying to navigate life with a babe on the boob. Like most mothers I struggled to breastfeed initially and my son was fed my expressed colostrum via syringe for the first three days of his life. After lots of support from lactation consultants, he learned to latch onto me around 3:30 in the morning on his fourth day on earth and it feels like he’s been there ever since! We have been breastfeeding for over 3 years now and over that time I have come across mothers all over the world who have needed support throughout their nursing journeys. Whether that is help and advice on looking after themselves as nursing mamas or support with stopping breastfeeding, I found that there is a great need for practical, evidence-based guidance from someone who is willing to acknowledge the challenges of breastfeeding in the real world, rather than pretending that it’s all sunshine and rainbows.
When I first started blogging it was for my own mental health and well-being, but I quickly connected with parents online who were experiencing similar issues to me. Over time my platform grew to over 75,000 followers across social media today. I feel incredibly passionate about sharing information that is founded on empirical research rather than cultural norms or old wives tales. I soon learned that the issues that bothered me about breastfeeding mattered to thousands of others too.
I published my first book in January of this year and I did my first corporate talk recently too. It is honestly such a privilege to be supporting families to breastfeed on their own terms, for as long as they choose and I hope to be able to do just that for a long time to come.
The term “matrescence” refers to the motherhood journey and the process of becoming a mother. Take us back to your pregnancy journey. What did you learn about yourself during pregnancy? How did pregnancy differ in reality from your expectations?
DF: My journey to motherhood was not exactly smooth. I lost a baby in 2014 after just passing the 12 week mark and announcing the good news to friends and family. That moment was a turning point for me and it caused me to re-evaluate many things in my life at the time. A few months after my miscarriage I found myself separated from my then husband and questioning everything about my life. It was then that I completed my yoga teacher training and then the following year I did a master’s degree in psychology as a way of healing and learning and growing personally and professionally.
I moved back to the UK from the UAE in 2017 and that’s when I moved in with the love of my life. We got engaged and fell pregnant in 2018 and the first trimester was tough! I was constantly nauseous and an emotional wreck and I had a few fainting spells which were scary. After that though I really enjoyed my pregnancy and loved having a huge belly! Going into labour I feel excited more than anything, but after 78 hours of labor, I developed sepsis and was rushed into theatre for an emergency C-section. It was a far cry from the all-natural water birth that I had envisaged! Nonetheless, I was just so happy to finally be a mother. The whole process was so much harder and so much more healing than I could ever have imagined.
Learning to trust my mother’s instinct took me so much longer than I anticipated, but it was a lesson that helped me to flourish as a mum.
Tell us about the fourth trimester and how you acclimated to being a mama? How did you change? How did your family dynamics change? How did you prioritize your wellness? Is there anything you wish had been different?
DF: The fourth trimester felt like a baptism of fire. I was wholly unprepared for the sleep deprivation and I had never heard of the term cluster feeding. Having read many of the mainstream baby books, I was obsessed with getting my son into a routine and helping him sleep through the night. Little did I know that his behaviour was completely natural and normal and that actually, he would not sleep through the night until he was around 2 1/2 years old. If I could go back in time, I would tell myself to burn the books and to focus on getting to know that baby that I had. Learning to trust my mother’s instinct took me so much longer than I anticipated, but it was a lesson that helped me to flourish as a mum.
My wellness took a back seat for at least a year - it felt impossible to take care of my son as well as I wanted to and to have time for myself too. We rearranged work and our lives at home to make it possible for me to have some me-time too after I collapsed from exhaustion after returning to work. The global lockdown felt like a gift to us, as it gave us a chance to be at home together as a family. We learned to divide childcare and housework between us. Learning how to effectively tag-team gave us both a chance to breathe and to bond with our baby boy.
August is National Breastfeeding Month, a time to focus on empowering and supporting all mothers and birthing people to achieve their personal breastfeeding goals. Can you tell us about your role as The Breastfeeding Mentor and how you hope to impact families on their feeding journeys?
DF: I hope to empower families to breastfeed on their own terms, for as long as they choose and to stop when they are ready to do so, too through education and support. I plan to do this by continuing to bust misconceptions about breastfeeding and sharing the realities of life as a nursing mother. I also hope to help to normalise nursing beyond infancy, by talking about it making it more seen in the UK especially. With my background in yoga, meditation and psychology, I will continue to share practical tips to help families thrive whilst breastfeeding. Watch this space for my courses and masterclasses on breastfeeding basics, weaning book and wellness coming soon!
The fourth trimester felt like a baptism of fire. I was wholly unprepared for the sleep deprivation and I had never heard of the term cluster feeding.
And now some fun stuff! Tell us:
Coffee or tea?
Both! A vanilla latte in the morning and then rooibos tea in the afternoon.
Ladies Night Out or Ladies Night In?
Definitely out! Child-free and chore-free means eating out somewhere that serves delicious food, preferably Al Fresco where I can giggle and relax completely with my besties!
You have one completely uninterrupted afternoon – no partner, no child, no work. What do you do?
I would do a relaxing yoga flow at my local park before getting into a steamy bath filled with Epsom salts and essential oils. I would switch on my current audio book, slather on a face mask and let the dulcet tones of the reader wash over me. I would finish up by ordering my favourite takeaway just in time for dinner!
Make it official! Follow Danielle on Instagram and check out her new book "Self-Care: The Breastfeeding Mother Edition: 50 Practical, Evidence-Based Tips to Support New, Nursing Moms."
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