The Importance of Breastfeeding Support - Keep Britain Breastfeeding Week

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This week I am taking part in the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Week Scavenger Hunt which aims to help support breastfeeding families and promote that choice for new mums and their children.

Keep Britain Breastfeeding Week 2013

Breastfeeding for me was never something I had to do while I was pregnant with Bud. I always thought I would try it out and see how we got on. While I was pregnant I spent time talking to two friends and my cousin who had all successfully breastfed two children. I asked them their experiences, for the 'warts and all' stories, for everything they wished they had been told when they were pregnant. They told me, they shared their stories - of cluster feeding, growth spurts, mastitis and tears; but also their stories of euphoria when the feeding was established, the feeling of nourishing your child, the way their hearts soared when those little eyes  smiled up at them as they enjoyed their milk. I got the full picture and I knew that I really wanted to try to breastfeed.

After Bud's birth I was expecting lots of support to help me nurse and, in hospital, I got it. The midwives helped me with his latch and I saw a Breastfeeding Specialist Healthcare Practitioner who really helped me too. Fantastic support, exactly what I expected from a National Health Service supposedly dedicated to encouraging new mothers to make the choice to breastfeed their babies. Then we came home. To the Community Midwifery Team who viewed my decision to breastfeed as quizzical at best and, at worst, I felt like I was being accused of intending to damage my own child. Bud was a lazy feeder for his first two weeks, he lost weight. After the traumatic aftermath of his birth I waited five days for my milk to arrive but I persevered. In spite of the lack of support from the professionals who should have offered it best.

Why did I persevere? Simple. I had three lovely people who I could call on for help and ask questions of, to check that I wasn't being a mad mama and that I could do it. They helped me so much and I will be forever grateful to them. Without them Bud would not have been breastfed until he was 25 months old. I probably wouldn't be breastfeeding a nearly 10 month old Little Miss. I also had a terrific partner and family who trusted me to do the right thing and brought me snacks and glasses of water,and endless chocolate bars, on those days when I was glued to the sofa with a baby in a growth spurt.

The best way I can think of to thank my supporters is to support other mums and I've done that twice now. By emailing a lovely friend and ex-colleague who may not live nearby but I hope I answered all of her questions when her gorgeous girl arrived. Currently my brother's girlfriend is breastfeeding her first child, my lovely little niece, she's now seven weeks old and doing so well and is exclusively breastfed. I've answered all of her questions honestly and openly, just like my supporters did for me. I want to pass on the gift that those wonderful ladies gave me which is why I talk about breastfeeding, I extol it's benefits to anyone who will listen, I want other mums to realise that it sometimes isn't easy but,with help, you probably can do it.

Baby girls newborn and 8 months

If you're pregnant and reading this then there are sources of support available, they may not be in the obvious places. Ask friends and family, track down your local breastfeeding group (SureStart is often a good place to start for that), or email me! It will help, having someone to turn to and say 'is this right?' 'does that normally happen?' will make all the difference. There are also some fantastic support networks  like La Leche League who have a breastfeeding helpline on their website. Your GP's surgery should be able to point you in the right direction or, as I hope, you might be luckier with your Community Midwifery team. Try not to go Googling when your baby is four days old and a Community Midwife has tried to convince you that you are starving 'that baby' by insisting on breastfeeding him, that way leads only to tears. In my experience the women around me who have been there are the best support network, just talk to them. 

I am promoting the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Week Scavenger Hunt this week and you can enter for the grand prize, worth over £1000 using the Rafflecopter widget below.

The following bloggers are amongst those taking part:
The Brick Castle
In the Playroom
Mixed Bag of Allsorts
Hex Mum
Little Lilypad Co

And, amongst the companies taking part is More 4 Mums, for whom I review and blog regularly.

a Rafflecopter giveaway