POSTNATAL SUPPORT WITH, OR AFTER CANCER & CHRONIC ILLNESS
I wanted to become a post natal doula, because my own journey to becoming a mother and adjusting to motherhood has been largely affected by breast cancer.
After having one diagnosis before my daughter was born, another eighteen months later, and another when my daughter was 3 and more recently, I have had a front row seat experiencing the disappointing shortage of specialist support for new mothers in this area. Since then I have felt strongly about raising awareness for families and women facing the challenge of having a new baby, as well as health implications that impact so many areas of caring for a newborn.
My cancer may have meant only one of my breasts grew while I was pregnant, but I managed to feed my baby for six weeks (which I was pretty chuffed with)
It meant I had to wear a prosthetic in my bra, a chicken fillet, that I was paranoid would fall out in public!
It meant my anxieties around hormonal changes were sky high.
It meant I had to have regular check ups, extra scans and even more blood tests, all through my pregnancy.
It meant no-one in my NCT group completely understood my concerns around breastfeeding or postnatal nutrition.
It meant that I endured months of trying to conceive a second time, discovering I had PCOS and secondary infertility.
It meant that I went into clinical menopause before my baby was two.
The implications were endless and affected me on so many emotional and physical levels, as well as issues around my identity as a mother and a woman.
I never wanted any other woman to experience the same lack of support and understanding. I am blessed with an incredible family unit, but had I known there was post natal support, let alone specific post natal cancer support, I would have jumped on it!
This area, though specialised, is becoming more familiar to those working as birth workers. As the age of women becoming first time mothers increases and the age of women being diagnosed with cancers, such as breast cancer, and other chronic illnesses gets younger, there is a niche group of new mothers whose needs may be a little different and a bit more complex.
As I grow in my role as a post natal doula, I am furthering my work by offering this empathy and experience and all that comes with becoming a mother through and after cancer and illness, to other new mothers affected by chronic health conditions, signposting to specific specialised services, groups and charities.
If you, or anyone you know has been affected by cancer before, during or post pregnancy, there is help available, offering that specialised support and empathy. You are not alone.
A charity that does great work in this area is Mummys Star. Please click here to find out more about them and the work they do and if I can help in any way, my door is permanently open, even if it is just for a chat and some solidarity.
You can read more about my cancer journey on my Samspaces website.