Thornton mum celebrates 10 years of breast-feeding

A Thornton woman who breast-fed through three pregnancies, three C-sections and three miscarriages over the course of ten years has spoken of her rollercoaster journey, and her support for struggling breast-feeding mums

Wednesday, 19th May 2021, 12:30 pm
Katie Philburn-Powell with 18-month-old Isabella

Katie Philburn-Powell, 42, battled cracked nipples and blocked ducts in order to feed four of her five children since 2011. She said: "I’m so proud that I’ve been able to nourish and nurture my youngest four and it’s been an amazing journey, hopefully it’ll continue for another few years"

She added: "For me, it's something I have always loved and enjoyed. I believe in natural weaning, which is why I'm still breast-feeding my 18-month old, and occasionally my three-year-old as well.

"Some mums breast-feed until their child is six or seven-years-old, and it's not really talked about because it's quite a taboo subject in this country. But in many other countries in the world, it's quite normal.

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Katie with Harrison and Sebastian

"My 10-year-old and five-year-old stopped feeding when they wanted to, rather than me saying I'm going to breast-feed until they're six months or a year and then forcing them to stop. Slowly they naturally didn't feed as much."

Katie, of Chequers Way, took up breastfeeding following the birth of her first child Lauren, now 17, but breast pain combined with a lack of information and support for feeding mums at the time led to her switching to bottle-feeding after five months. So when her second child George was born in 2011, she was determined to give 'breast is best' another go.

"When I first started breast-feeding with George, I wanted to get to six months, and when we got there we found it was going really well. Then it got to a year, then two years, and he weaned until he was four-years-old," she said.

Since then Katie has embraced her 'breastfeeding journey' with her other children, five-year-old Harrison, three-year-old Sebastian, and 18-month-old Isabella.

From 2011 until 2015 she volunteered for the Blackpool breast-feeding network, which supported breast-feeding mums through community group meets and helped them with any breast-feeding related problems.

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She said: "I have always been about supporting mums and making sure they are given the best information to make an informed decision. I don't preach breast-feeding, but I think information is key.

"For George, I stopped feeding when I went into hospital to have his little brother. He then decided he was a big boy and didn't need to breast-feed any more. That was his choice, and for me it was the best way to end the breast-feeding journey with him.

"I think there is still some taboo about breast-feeding past a certain age. There's a big conflict between formula mums and breast-feeding mums, which I don't think helps any mum, especially if they are really struggling. It's always awful to see mums getting into heated conversations about bottle feeding and breast-feeding, which is quite common in mums groups online. Being a mum is hard enough as it is.

"I've only recently gone back to work, so for the past 10 years my main job has been being a mum, and it has defined me a lot. Ten years is such a long time, I've almost forgotten what my life was like before!

"I think there needs to be more acceptance of breast-feeding past six months or even a year old. I've had people, sometimes from my own family, make comments about it.

"In ten years I've been through nursing strikes - which is when the baby refuses to feed - I've had skin infections and blocked ducts, but overall I can't say any of it has been really bad. It has been good for me, having that bond with my children. I think it created the foundation for having a loving bond with my children, and having that unique connection with them."