Posted on June 25 2017
This week in England it's National Breastfeeding Celebration Week, and the theme is 'breastfeeding support'.
Support is obviously very important for pregnant and new mums that want to breastfeed, but it can also be a tricky and controversial subject too.
Sometimes 'support' is seen as pressure to new mums, or often there are gaps and inconsistencies as many mums find lots of talk about breastfeeding when pregnant or with a newborn but then no support or help along the way once the baby is here or as the weeks and months go by. Especially if there are problems, that's when so many mums feel let down.
For me, being informed without pressure or judgement to make my own decisions and then supported along the way came from so many different people and in different guises. This is true for all the different parts of motherhood to be honest (not just feeding).
There was never just one person that helped me, that supported me, that made me want to try, that made me carry on when things were difficult, instead there are a whole load of people, situations and events that have contributed to the experience I have had, and that's what mums need.
So I wanted to share my story about who supported me, (my #bfriends17), and I'd like to say Thank you to...
- My NCT antenatal course teacher and the breastfeeding councillor who gave me information and advice while pregnant in a non pushy way which made me want to try it (when all I'd really known and seen was bottles)
- The midwife who helped me get skin to skin and the first latch after I'd been separated from my daughter for an hour recovering from a traumatic delivery
- The maternity ward staff for answering the millions questions I had
- The doctors that understood I wanted to breastfeed and allowed me to continue alongside their recommended formula top ups during the Jaundice phototherapy in the first couple of days
- My husband for the support, understanding, the meals cooked, the cups of tea, the gathering of things that were out of reach while I was stuck on the sofa, for generally being awesome
- My family, for letting me get on with things the way I wanted, for not making me feel uncomfortable to feed whenever baby needed, for understanding that I needed to and wanted to keep her close to me while she was little (even though you joked that you only ever see the back of her head!)
- To the friends and family who don't breastfeed, for never making it weird that we do things in different ways, for making me feel comfortable, for understanding when I couldn't go out for months and being the awesome friends that you are
- To the friends that do breastfeed, for providing the chat and shared highs and lows, the safety in numbers and the 3am WhatsApp chats about growth spurts
- To the internet... I don't know what I'd have done with out you! Particularly Facebook groups and Instagram; The knowledge, the support, the advice and peer support/counselling, the stories of other mums, better understanding and advice than any healthcare professionals that I'd come across and without it I might not have continued. Especially as time went on, for always reassuring me that what I was doing was ok, was normal, even if I didn't know many people in real life doing the same.
- To the general public for never giving me funny looks or negative comments
You see, wether you formula feed, combination feed, exclusively breastfeed, follow routines or follow the baby, co-sleep or cry it out, cloth nappies or disposables (you get the picture...) whatever path you've ended up following, 'support' comes from all around you.
Not just facts and info and science from leaflets or statistics but also friendly support, from family, friends, culture, society.
You don't need to be a mum or a woman or a doctor or a midwife to support a breastfeeding mum. It's everyone's responsibility to support the mums and babies they know or they see.
I wonder how many employers or friends or strangers have unknowingly made a mums breastfeeding journey or struggles a bit easier just by being accepting and flexible and not making it an issue?
So let's support all mums, listen to what they want and what they know their babies want and let them be that person. No matter what their choices or ambitions or how things have turned out, we need to respect and support that.
It like to thank all of the above for allowing me to feel 'normal' and confident and comfortable with my choices when it comes to feeding and letting me mother in the way that suited me (well, suited my baby... she's made all the decisions and is the boss of me!)
P.S. To #celebratebreastfeeding, there's 20% off everything in the shop until 9th July! Just use code BOOBS at the check out!