In any given situation, there will always be extremes, or differences of opinion, and breastfeeding is no different. There’s always is and will be teeth sucking, eye rolling, tutting and shakes of the head when the topic of breast is best arises.
Save the Children’s Superfood for Babies report, an important body of work, is bound to ruffle a few feathers and elicit both positive and negative responses.
Breastfeeding is another ‘parenting’ minefield we have to navigate and it’s made all the more pertinent because it challenges us immediately when we become Mums for the first time. Women I know who haven’t been able to breastfeed have complained that they feel looked down upon by others who can, while some say that they just wouldn’t consider breastfeeding. I know others who’ve raised eyebrows by continuing to feed their children to the age of three or four.
But these topics are not what’s up for discussion in the report, instead these four major barriers that prevent mothers from breastfeeding are examined:
community and cultural pressures
the shortage of health workers
lack of maternity legislation
inappropriate promotion of breast-milk substitutes
Breastfeeding is a personal matter. When my daughter was born I was ecstatic and I tried to feed her immediately. I wasn’t quite sure it worked to be honest so I asked a few questions before making a rapid exit out of the hospital. Having been in for a week prior to being induced, I was desperate to leave and looked forward to home with my beautiful new daughter.
Breastfeeding was agony.
Looking back, I don’t know how I managed to get through it but I toiled on and it got easier. I knew I’d be going back to part time work, I began to express milk and store it in the freezer. I managed to get quite a supply going or so I thought. Before heading back to the workplace, I settled my daughter in with a childminder, who went through an eight week supply in just a week. Worried that I would lose my milk when I went back to work, I thought I’d try expressing milk at work. I had to do this in the toilet which felt wrong, unhygienic and bloody weird. There was nowhere to store milk other than the office fridge; I even had to stop a colleague using my precious supply in his tea. It was then I started a mix and match of breastfeeding when at home and sending ready made bottles to the childminder, and after nine months or so finished breastfeeding. I’d found a local shop which sold organic milk powder and shopped there regularly. One day when I was close to running out, I went there only to find there was no more left, it was frightening to think that my milk had dried up and there was none of the milk I had chosen to use available for my daughter. I still had a choice though. I could buy another baby food brand, even though it wasn’t organic. Even if I’d have run out of money, I would have been able to get milk tokens from my GP.
In Indonesia, things are slightly different which is why you’ll see a few guest blogs this week coming from some of the founders of the Association of Indonesian Breastfeeding Mothers (AIMI). They explain what they are doing in Indonesia to overcome the challenges they are facing. The Indonesian Government has calculated that 33,000 lives would be saved if women breastfed for the six months of an infant’s life. That is an extraordinary number to deal with isn’t it?
These amazing blogs, which are testament to how small communities can make a huge difference by working together and using the power of the internet for good, can be found at Thinly Spread, Ruth at Dorky Mum and my blog.
Please download the report and have a read through, it’s impressive to say the least.