When I fell pregnant, I was 16 and coming to the end of my first year of college. I remember that I was starting to feel tired and down all of the time and was struggling to get out of bed in the morning, which I initially put down to the fact I was studying sports. However, after a couple of weeks, my boyfriend kept saying he thought I might be pregnant, so he brought home a pregnancy test and we did together.
When the test came back positive, I went to the doctors straight away, but didn’t go to the hospital until I was around five months in to my pregnancy. I was still feeling really tired and depressed, and I think this was because, although I knew I wasn’t going to have an abortion, I really didn’t feel ready to have a baby. My mum was so helpful during this time and really encouraged me to get up and try and be healthy for my baby. I remember her favourite saying used to be, ‘that baby inside you needs fresh air’ and she’d come home from work and take me out shopping just to get me out of the house.
When I did have my first scan at about 22 weeks and I saw my baby girl for the first time, that’s when I started to feel better. I knew I had to be healthy and try for this little human growing inside of me so started to pull myself together. When I went to the hospital, I also got referred to FNP and met my family nurse, Melanie.
During my initial visits with Melanie, we talked a lot about what to expect with birth and how my baby was developing inside me. All of our chats made me feel okay with the idea that I was going to have a baby. One of the best things about having a family nurse is having someone outside of my family and friendship group that had a different perspective on everything!
Following the birth of my daughter, one thing Melanie really helped me through was feeding. I quite quickly found that I was unable to breastfeed, which really upset me, but with Melanie’s support and advice on alternative feeding options, I felt so much better. Neveah is now almost 1-year-old, and she always knows when Melanie is visiting! We often do activities together to teach me about her development and keeps me updated with anything I need to do to help it along.
If I had to give any advice to other young mums, I would say that having a baby is not the easiest thing in the world to do, but it is definitely worth it. Just seeing my daughter wake up smiling every day is amazing, and I wouldn’t change anything at all. Things are a lot easier when you have a supportive network around you, which is why I’d definitely recommend young mums join the FNP programme if they get the offer. It’s really nice to have someone outside of the loop for you to talk to and meet up with, especially when you’re feeling down or unsure about anything.
You can listen to Damoya's interview as part of the BBC Woman’s Hour series, ‘Becoming a Mother: A Hot Cup of Tea with Hollie McNish’ on the BBC website.