Sunday, April 17, 2011

Michelle's story

Thank you to Michelle, who is the first to share her story of MS and breastfeeding on the blog. You can read her story here. I am looking forward to featuring more positive stories like this.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Over to you!

I have been receiving some lovely emails and Facebook messages from people wanting to take part in this project, which is just wonderful. I have also had offers of support from both the Australian Breastfeeding Association and MS Australia :)

Many are asking - what can we do?

At this stage, what I would like most is to hear YOUR story of MS and motherhood, so that I can start to build on the issues we face. But I don't want to keep all that information hidden until the book finally eventuates, so I would like to invite you to put your experience into words and share that with mothers and others who visit this site. If you have already contacted me, I will be in touch to seek permission to share your story. If you haven't already sent it to me, you can do so easily by following the instructions in the Tell your story tab (above).

Stories will be added as they are received, so hopefully we will build a library of individual experiences that will help others as they begin their own journey.

I am also planning a questionnaire to gather the shared experience and establish what the common issues are. So, if you haven't subscribed to this blog or the Facebook group, check back often to see what's new!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Meant to be!

It is now a month since I decided to begin this project - and in that short time, I have already been asked about MS and breastfeeding on behalf of three women!

At this stage, I am focusing on getting the word out there that I want to speak to anyone has experience, thoughts, ideas or information about breastfeeding women who have multiple sclerosis - past, present and future.

Some areas I wish to explore:

  • Medicating mothers - is there a change going on, right now, with the way new mothers are prescribed weaning/medication after childbirth? Are they now being encouraged to breastfeed because research suggests prolactin may actually delay relapses post-natally? Or is token "permission" to breastfeed for a short and specified time before weaning to medicate still the norm?
  • What are the issues breastfeeding women who have MS actually face? Are they more/less fatigued than those who formula feed? Are night feeds really detrimental to avoiding fatigue? Is expressing a burden or a tool in fatigue management?
  • What support do mothers need/want? From whom? 
If you know any woman who can contribute towards this project, I would love to hear from them.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Welcome to MS, Mums & Milk!

This is a project I have wanted to get off the ground for a long time and I have decided 2011 is the year!

My combined roles of breastfeeding counsellor and MS peer support volunteer have brought together two key areas of my life - breastfeeding women and people living with Multiple Sclerosis. Given that MS is most common in women of child-bearing age, they cross paths for many women and I am asked to offer support and information on both fronts.

Through nothing more than good luck, my pregnancies and breastfeeding preceded the onset of MS symptoms in my life - just. The first episode I had, optic neuritis, occurred less than two years after I weaned my youngest child. I was never put in the situation of having to make choices between my health and that of my children, for which I am eternally grateful. But many women are.

My goal is to first research, then write, a book about pregnancy, breastfeeding and the first years of motherhood for women who are already living with multiple sclerosis and those who are diagnosed with it during this time.

I am inspired by the only book I have seen which addresses any of these issues:

Multiple Sclerosis and Having a Baby: Everything You Need to Know About Conception, Pregnancy, and Parenthood by Judy Graham (1999)

This book is now quite out of date, because the management and treatment of MS has changed so dramatically over the past decade, however it was wonderful for its time. Judy Graham was previously married to childbirth expert Michel Odent, so the book was written from a perspective of birth and parenting which resonate with me.

Rather than wait around for somebody else to create the book I want to refer women to, I thought I might as well have a go at creating it myself!

So here we are, at the beginning of that journey. One is which I hope to give a voice to women with MS who are mothers, who have faced the decisions and made the choices that will be addressed in the book.