World Breastfeeding Week: what does it mean for you?
The lovely Bod for Tea recently alerted me to the fact that, starting today, it is World Breastfeeding Week (1-7 August 2013). And it got me thinking about breastfeeding in France and the UK, and what it means for me, and what it means for others.
My mum was an NCT breastfeeding counsellor when I was a child, who breastfed all 4 of my siblings and me through the 1970s and early 80s. So you would think this might have been forced on me as the only option. But not so. Whilst Mum used to tell me of the benefits of breastfeeding she also agrees with the “better to give a bottle happily than a breast unhappily”, which took any pressure off.
When I had L in France I breastfed her for 11 months, which even meant going against healthcare professionals advice: “she’s not putting enough weight on, you must stop breastfeeding and give her formula”, for a baby who was 1 month old, happy, healthy, alert and who slept for 8 hour stretches at night.
I had C in the UK last November and she is still breastfed (alongside solids), which is making our current holiday nice and easy, as you can see:
I was lucky enough that L fed incredibly easily from the get-go, I didn’t have any issues with cracked nipples, any pain or anything negative at all, fortunately. With C things were slightly different; when my milk came in my breasts became engorged, I had a lump in my armpit that was the size of a tennis ball, I got cracked and bleeding nipples and C never fed as well as L did.
However I got excellent support in the first week from our local midwife (who I’d never met before), who reassured me that I didn’t have cancer (hormones and fatigue making me think crazy thoughts), and to massage the lump in the heat of the shower and when feeding on that side. My mum was also around which helped enormously. On top of that the other mums from my NCT refresher group were there for me to chat things over with. Finally we are lucky enough to have an NCT breastfeeding clinic in our little corner of London, where I knew I could run to if things got really difficult. (This is currently under threat, and I will be blogging about what people can do to save it soon.)
Whilst I am a real advocate of breastfeeding, of supporting mums who want to breastfeed, and of giving future/new mums advice and information about breastfeeding, I am also pro-choice. Some women can’t breastfeed. Some women feel uncomfortable with the pain (and let’s not lie, it can be bloody painful) of breastfeeding. Some women feel uncomfortable with the intimacy and privacy issues of breastfeeding should they need to feed their baby in public (which is common in the early days if you choose to go out). Some women just don’t want to breastfeed, full-stop. And I really believe that if a woman has made up her mind, one way or the other, she should be supported in that choice 100% by those who know her, and strangers in the street alike.
Breast is best (for some women). Bottle is best (for some women). Whatever works for you and your baby is best.
Let’s support all women in their chosen method of feeding their baby all year round. And this week let’s support all women who would like to/are trying to breastfeed/are breastfeeding.
What does breastfeeding mean for you? Something you love? Something you hate? Something you lacked support in? Something you felt pressured into doing? I’d love to hear your feelings on this key mothering subject.