Thursday 6 August 2015

Positive About Breastfeeding - Backstage

Support! It is the the most vital ingredient in the recipe for successful breastfeeding. Surround yourself with people who believe in breastfeeding. Get help when you need it. Find the breastfeeding cafes near your home, and go to them before your baby is born. Seek out other breastfeeding mums and ask for advice. The more you know, the more successful you will be.

When B was born, my support consisted of my mum, my best friend and the Hubby. But with the issues I had, they weren't enough. The paediatricians and nurses at the hospital were unsupportive, unhelpful and poorly educated in breastfeeding. I didn't have the confidence I needed as a first time mum. I knew what I wanted, but I got scared and gave into pressure. My breastfeeding journey didn't have a good start. By the time M came along, my circle of support had grown enormously. I was part of the local Attachment Parenting group; I had more breastfeeding friends; support at the hospital had improved; and being part of several breastfeeding groups on Facebook connected me with a huge number of breastfeeding mums. I could find answers, advice and encouragement in so many places, at any time of the day or night. The journey with M was so much better because of those helping me along.

Every new mother should be able to feed her baby the way she wants to, after receiving accurate, evidence based information on infant feeding. They should never be told to top up with formula without first having seen an IBCLC. IBCLCs should be on staff at every maternity ward. There should be breastmilk banks at every hospital so that every baby that needs supplementation can have access to human milk. The government should be channelling money into breastfeeding education for health care providers and ensuring schoolchildren are taught about it during science and PSHE lessons. The NHS should be ensuring that all their staff are up to date on breastfeeding training, and GPs and Health Visitors should be reminded that facts are to beshared, rather than their outdated opinions. We need better support for breastfeeding, and it needs to be everywhere. With a bit of investment, the NHS could save a huge amount of money because of fewer serious childhood illnesses and cancers, and less obesity and diabetes due to more babies being breastfed beyond the first few weeks of life.

Support breeds support. Women who have been helped and encouraged to achieve their breastfeeding goals are able to go on to support and help others. From my own experiences and research, I could name at least 10 women I have been able to help in various ways to succeed in breastfeeding their babies. But I would never have been able to do that if it wasn't for the support I first received in the early days of breastfeeding B. So, thank you to my mum - an LLL counsellor, who I saw advising women when I was a child, and who encouraged me, prayed for me, and reminded me that I was a breastfeeding mum, despite my low supply. Thank you to my Husband, who overcame his initial fears and became my greatest supporter, even becoming a bit of a breastfeeding cheerleader himself. (You'll find him blogging at Dad Thoughts.) And thank you to my best friend, who listened to my tears, and texted me uplifting words, and reassured me that all would be well. You carried me until I was able to feed on my own two feet.

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