This week, countries all across the world are celebrating World Breastfeeding Week. Recently, we spoke with Chantelle Champs on the launch of her debut book Milk It where Chantelle spoke with us on the challenges of breastfeeding and her experience of her twin girls over on our podcast, which you can read a snippet from below:
Welcome Chantelle, let’s start with a little bit about yourself?
My name is Chantelle, I’ve got an Instagram account @chantellechamps and basically, I started it a few years ago when I was pregnant with twins. I’ve got a 6-year-old, Dakota, and twins that are identical girls, Tatum and Blakely, who are almost 3. When I was pregnant with them, I started documenting my pregnancy and my worries. When I had them I started breastfeeding and I remember the first post I put up of me breastfeeding and I remember it being so daunting. I felt a bit like a freak show that I was going to breastfeed twins because whenever I told anyone when I was pregnant everyone looked at me like ‘shock horror’. So many people tried to put me off breastfeeding so I uploaded a picture because I was so proud of myself, that I had done it but I was nervous putting the photo on.
People told me I made it on their friend's Whatsapp groups, I remember feeling a bit sick as someone was saying ‘I agree with breastfeeding but I don’t agree with seeing women do it. I don’t understand why people want to put pictures on’ and after that, it made me more determined to put on more pictures because I thought ‘how dare you say what women should and shouldn’t do, they’re feeding their babies, it’s perfectly normal and natural, that’s what we’ve got boobs for.’ I just started championing women to breastfeed and I started getting women come to me from all over the world for advice. It was amazing. I can’t explain the passion I have to want to help women to breastfeed and it just all started from there. That’s basically who I am and what I live for now, I get so excited if someone sends me a message and asks for advice on breastfeeding as I know I could help a woman and her baby to do something that they really want to. It’s the most rewarding thing.
Would you say the challenges from those people on Instagram, that was what created this journey for you?
I’ll start from the beginning. I breastfed my eldest who is now 6 and I breastfed her until she was 19 months. In my head I thought I’d get to 6 months and you know, that’s when people stop breastfeeding. I didn’t know anything about it. I got to 6 months and I thought I really don’t want to stop breastfeeding. It was something I really enjoyed doing. She really enjoyed it! She was doing so so well, she was never ill and it just worked very well for both of us. I thought, why am I stopping because I felt like everyone wanted me to? Then I thought ‘oh I’ll get to a year’ but then I got to a year and I thought it was so easy, she was having three meals a day, she was having snacks. It was so easy to breastfeed here and there when she fancied it, it wasn’t too demanding. I was still really enjoying it and she was but as soon as I got to a year, from family members to friends and even friends' parents, everyone made comments. They would pull a face and say ‘oh you love breastfeeding’. I never worried about them, it’s only looking back at all the negativity that breastfeeding past one year created and it’s something I’ve had arguments with my family about. I said to them ‘why, I don’t understand why you want me to stop. I don’t understand what the problem is. It’s not affecting you. I’m fine, Dakota loves it still, there are so many benefits of breastfeeding past a year.’ It doesn’t just stop when they start eating food, there are so many benefits. I had lots of arguments with people in my family, people in my husband's family, so when I found out I was pregnant with twins, my first thought was ‘oh my god, I’m not going to be able to breastfeed’ because I just loved it with my eldest. When we stopped I couldn’t wait until I could breastfeed again, and I went away and everyone was like ‘oh well, you can’t breastfeed with twins can you?’ and I went ‘they’re right, I can’t’. After this, one of my family members said to me ‘Imagine if you’d breastfeed twins, your boobs would be down by your ankles, you’d look horrendous’. In my head, although I thought I couldn’t breastfeed, I really wanted to…
I went home from telling everyone we were having twins, we went and surprised all our family door to door, and I just started researching breastfeeding twins, like I said, I just didn’t think it was possible. Now I look back, I don’t know why I didn’t think that was possible, it was just I didn’t know anyone with twins, twins aren’t that common. One day I stumbled across this FB group called breastfeeding twins and triplets, there was 3,000 mums in there at the time, now there’s nearly 7,000 now and there was triplets mums in there exclusively breastfeeding their triplets at a year, and I thought ‘I‘ve got two boobs, two arms, two babies. If a mum of triplets can do that, then I can with two.’
I went away, did so much research and once I felt really confident with my decision, I said to my family ‘this is what I’m doing’ and I don’t know why I wouldn’t have thought about it. They were so negative straight away, there were times when I was nearly in tears saying I want to breastfeed my twins why is everyone getting the hump with that? I remember someone very quite close to me saying to me ‘well you know you can’t expect us to help you then if you’re breastfeeding then, how do you expect us to help you?’ but obviously someone popping around for 30 minutes every other week isn’t going to really influence my decision on how I feed my child. At the end of the day, it is my children and I that are together 24/7, no one else is there 24/7. My husband was working at the time, I gave birth in September, and he had so many jobs to finish (he’s a builder) before Christmas, so he ended up working 7 days straight for a long time. It was months and months before he had two days off a week so for me, putting two babies on my boobs, not having to get out of bed and just putting them back into their moses basket next to me, in my head, that was just going to be so much easier.
Everyone kept saying to me I was really stupid and It was going to be harder but in my head, before I had them I thought ‘no I don’t see how it’s going to be’. I found breastfeeding my eldest really easy and I didn’t with the twins that easy but with the twins after those 6 weeks, it was so much easier. So I do feel that was my driving force. I mention it in my book, at the end in my last acknowledgements, is ‘thank you so much to my family members who tried to discourage me and mock me’ because I feel If it wasn’t for them I don’t know if I would have such a passion…