Amanda manages the National Breastfeeding Campaign advertising team. She’s mum to three children and had her first baby when she was 19 and a university student. Here she tells her story of breastfeeding through uni, and (the best bit) shares her ‘retro’ photos (taken in 1992 – check out the voluminous hair – gorgeous!)
“My first breastfeeding experience was as a young mum in the final year of my degree at Massey University. Ironically, it was the easiest of my three breastfeeding stints, having subsequently suffered through numerous challenges with my second and third children some years later.
I was just starting back into my 3rd year of study when Brin was born. Suddenly my partner and I were juggling the demands of fulltime study with learning our roles as new parents. We had little money and were far from our families, so we just had to manage with help from flat mates and other uni friends.
Looking back I don’t know how we did it, but there seemed little choice at the time if we wanted to complete our qualifications. My partner was doing Accounting and his faculty was not keen on a new baby turning up at lectures. Luckily the Marketing faculty proved to be a lot more flexible: something which I will be eternally grateful for – though the rest of the students may not have been quite so thrilled about it!
In the first 6 months, I attended most of my lectures with Brin strapped to my front, feeling very conspicuous! More than once I caught the very surprised and sometimes appalled expressions of students around me as they realised it was actually a real live baby sitting there amongst them.
We usually managed to time feeds well, so he slept through most lectures. I can remember sussing out the empty tutorial rooms near each of my lectures and sneaking in there to feed before or after classes. I would sit near the back of the lecture theatre so if Brin did start fretting I could walk backwards and forwards causing minimal disruption, my attention divided between keeping him quiet and doing my best to absorb what was being presented up the front of the room.
Sometimes there was simply nothing to be done except to pop him on the breast and feed him during the lecture: something that drew a variety of reactions and left me feeling an odd mixture of pride and complete embarrassment all at once. As he got bigger, I would leave him with his dad, along with a hard earned supply of expressed milk (I could only afford one of those hand pumps that were exhausting to use). But we got through and Brin was fed exclusively on breastmilk until around 5 months, and in combination with solids until around 10 months.”