Burns victim breastfeeds child despite pain to give hope to other young mums

Schamica Stevenson

A burns victim who's breastfeeding her second child despite the pain, says she's doing it to give hope to other young mums.

Schamica Stevenson, 34, was badly burned at the age of two, in a house fire in the US state of Michigan.

She didn't breastfeed her first child but decided to try this time.

"I wanted to share my story to help others not give up like I did when I was 20," she's told Newsbeat from her home in America.

"As long as their breasts work they should be used the way nature intended them to be."

Mimi's eight-month-old brother died after the family's boiler exploded and her mother couldn't get to them because of bars on the windows.

She's been having skin grafts for most of her life and says she was worried getting pregnant for the first time aged 20 because of the scars on her stomach.

Anaesthesiologists also couldn't give the 34-year-old an epidural for her pain because of the scarring.

Schamica Stevenson
Image caption Mimi's second child Paris was born on 4 March - 21 days early - weighing 6lb 11oz. Photo: Ivette Ivens

Mimi, who now works as a medical assistant, says that the first time round she didn't have time to breastfeed but wanted to try this time.

"I was young and didn't have the patience to persevere then when she wasn't latching.

"This time I was determined to breastfeed."

She also says she wanted to try because she'd watched her sister-in-law and cousin breastfeed all their children.

US photographer Ivette Ivens shared the photo of Mimi on her Facebook page, calling her a "Mother of two. Fire survivor. Warrior. Breastfeeder".

With 14 years between pregnancies, as well as two miscarriages, Mimi says it was incredibly hard to breastfeed her son Josia.

Schamica Stevenson
Image caption Mimi can't grow hair on the top of her head and says she's thankful for lace wigs

She says she had low milk supply and had to feed her baby with a pump and syringe to start with.

"The lactation nurses helped me out a lot at the hospital," she says.

"I remember she said, 'This is not going to feel good,' as she tugged and pulled at my breasts.

"It killed but I was determined to have that breastfeeding bond with my son.

"I even pumped every three hours after each feeding while still at the hospital but noticed I wasn't getting much out."

Schamica Stevenson
Image caption Mimi says she had yearly operations in Cincinnati until she was 17

Despite having burn marks, Mimi says she hopes her photos will inspire other mothers to have confidence in their own bodies.

"It breaks my heart that people feel suicidal over their image," she says. "Then there's me - not a care in the world - walking around as if I look like Beyonce or Tamar Braxton.

"I didn't get my confidence overnight obviously, but I'm so glad I have it now.

"There are days I get down because I'm human, but I bounce right back and thank God for my life and my beautiful babies I was able to birth and now nurse."

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