This phrase heralds Worldwide Breastfeeding Week alongside lots of celebrities demonstrating you can mix nursing with a model / pop singer / movie actress lifestyle.
My favourite has to be this one of Gisele being coifed while one year old Vivian nurses contentedly in her lap. (Have I posted this before? I feel I have…)
This picture would only apply to Elphie if she was asleep, at any point before that the stylists and manicurists would have to dodge the flailing arms and legs that accompany a nursing session, alongside the occasional “pop your head and / or entire body up to find out exactly what’s going on”. But maybe that is because I haven’t got Elphie used to the idea of me being coifed by an army of beauticians, and hence she doesn’t realise that the five minutes of hairbrushing, occasional misadventure in make-up and attacks on my nails with her baby nail clippers, should each be accompanied by her peacefully breastfeeding in my lap as opposed to using these opportunities to “stroke” (read whack) the cat or eat her food and/or litter. Must rectify this immediately with army of stylists…
Apologies for the lateness of my post: I promise to get my words of wisdom to you as soon as I can. In the meantime, here is the story of an amazing mother who is an inspiration to us all. Not only breastfeeding her triplets – considered quite challenging enough by many – she also took on a newborn from an entirely different species!
Warning: ensure waterproof mascara is in place before reading.
I met a potential babysitter today, she seemed to be a nice lass without an affinity to Gina Ford so I think it could work. The only red flag perhaps was her attitude to breastfeeding in public, where she thought full breast exposure was unnecessary and that more discretion should be involved. I tried to explain this was because we were the product of a society that has oversexualised breasts for the benefit of the male hegemony, but I am not sure she bought it. Perhaps I should send her this article instead…
Ah the heady days before baby, when I could have a few large glasses of wine after work, share a bottle with a meal or finish the night with a wee dram or two; a sudden withdrawal from alcohol was always going to raise suspicions of pregnancy in those around me.
Luckily while pregnant, I just went off the stuff. From occasionally actually craving a glass of wine, I went to not being bothered by it – I would have a sip of Fred’s tipple just so I knew what I was missing, but that was enough. I was paranoid that Elphie would be born with fetal alcohol syndrome as a consequence of the extra drinks I had at Charles and Laura’s wedding following a negative pregnancy test that I mistakenly thought had put me in the clear. Fetal alcohol syndrome has a number of nasty growth and mental retardation symptoms alongside facial abnormalities like the below courtesy of an article by Warren, Hewitt & Thomas. There is speculation that Jade Goody and George W Bush shared these facial characteristics but I’ll leave you to play Dr Google on that one.
There’s nothing like a spontaneous holiday – hopping in the car and driving somewhere, looking up hotels en route and hoping they are still serving dinner when you get there (or you can find the local Chinese takeaway before it closes if they are not – but I digress).
Some say that such spontaneity is impossible once you have a baby as they require so much clobber. Well “Pah!” I say to that. If your sense of adventure is still intact then anything is possible with a bit of ingenuity and a Tesco Extra.
This video came to my attention just before a furore broke out in the breastfeeding community about a review on Tripadvisor complaining about a pub whose landlady had objected to a mother breastfeeding in their restaurant area and whose landlord had responded to the complaint by saying:
“The Greyfriar restaurant area was almost empty that day, so there were corner tables available, which afford considerable privacy, away from the bar area. Despite this, this party had chosen to sit at the restaurant table nearest to the bar. Moreover, the lady had also chosen to face the bar customers when feeding her child, rather than feeding with her back to them. To cap it all, the purpose made top which is designed to cover everything was, literally, covering nothing. This is why my wife spoke to the lady – she was displaying her entire breast to everyone in the bar, in circumstances where it was entirely avoidable. We have the full cross-section of people visiting The Greyfriar and I’m afraid many are offended by this type of display.”
It really hits home how bizarre our society is about breasts – whipping them out to feed a baby, not ok; showing them on page 3 of a national newspaper, perfectly fine! Facebook is notorious for banning people who post pictures of themselves breastfeeding as obscene images because you might just see a nipple. And there really people out there who view a picture of a breast with a baby attached as pornographic as Facebook only blocks these photos when someone reports them.
Now I will admit that in the past I might have been a bit surprised if I had seen a woman displaying her full breast while nursing in public and probably would have averted my eyes (product of this culture that I was). Now whenever I see anyone nursing in public with their boob on display, I want to give them a badge in honour of their bravery!
Thank heavens for whatever lobbying group did get the breastfeeding clause into the Equality Act so objections like the one above are clearly against the law. Even with this, we still have a long way to go before our society realises that breasts really aren’t just for titillation
Use of nipple shields is controversial in the world of breastfeeding and for good reason – you shouldn’t need them. Nipple shields should be a short term solution – if your baby can’t latch or breastfeeding is painful then nipple shields help in that they allow the baby to latch and allow the nipples to heal, but they can’t resolve the problem and that problem really does need to be identified and resolved. And I think that is the crux of the problem not so much with nipple shields themselves – in reality they are an amazing device which would otherwise have prevented me from breastfeeding – but because they are recommended without due care and attention.
I was told to use them because my nipples were flat, I used them and it was only six weeks later when I thought I should wean Elphie off them that it was discovered that my nipples in fact were not flat, Elphie was tongue tied. But by then it was too late – Elphie was hooked on them and although physically she could nurse normally after the revision, she didn’t want to – she was used to the silicon nipple and didn’t want this weird fleshy nipple that required a slightly different technique (wider mouth, less just sucking it in).
I battled to get her to breastfeed normally – tears were shed (both hers and mine), breastfeeding drop-ins were attended, we reverted to skin to skin, and although sometimes she would latch on most of the time she wouldn’t and she would cry until I gave up and went for the shield.
I started questioning myself – why was I so desperate to wean her off the shields? She was feeding well on them, my milk supply seemed fine and she seemed to hate breastfeeding without them. The advantages of normal breastfeeding over doing so with the shields would be less sterilising and less risk of meltdowns if I forgot the shields and less of a dent in my pride due to an inability to breastfeed. But were these really reasons to upset her? Wasn’t I just being selfish trying to get her off them? I was trying to be responsive to my baby and led by her and yet here I was doing precisely the opposite, trying to get her to do something she obviously didn’t want to do.
I can’t believe it has been a whole month since my last post. Thanks to Elly for holding the fort!
My recent troubles have revolved around one aspect of having kittens that we have mentioned many, many times on here:
It actually all started after I saw Elly and we discussed the fact that three months on, I was still suffering from sore nipples and using nipple shields most days to protect them. It would be fine for a while, then they’d get sore, so I’d put on a shield, they’d heal, I’d remove the shield, they’d get sore again and thus the cycle continued. Feeds were also hours at a time which was exhausting (although this gave me lots of time to write blog posts…) I knew in the back of my mind this probably wasn’t what was supposed to happen but just got on with it anyway – since the first week when we had the “formula discussion” in A&E it never occurred to me to give up breastfeeding. Despite the discomfort I’ve always enjoyed it too: among many reasons for carrying on, I love the bond it reinforces between Pip and me, and even the fact it’s free!
I think around the three-month mark something shifts: your baby is not such a newborn any more, and things are supposed to be falling into place. For example, many women go back to work at three months! For me it was the opposite. Enough was enough – the breastfeeding was really starting to get me down. If something you spend several hours a day doing is not going well, the effect tends to accumulate! On the positive side, Pip had always managed to latch and consume milk, and his weight was always fine. On the negative side, that’s what stopped me taking action for so long – he was doing well, so I was the one with the problem, therefore it was a far less important issue… I decided to take some action (calling up two lactation consultants and arranging to go to a breastfeeding drop-in with my NCT friend) but before I could get things into motion it was too late. Mastitis had crept up on me!
So continuing on my theme, I thought I might cover (see what I did there?) one of the issues associated with breastfeeding which actually everyone can do something about and support – doing it in public.
In the UK, a woman’s right to breastfeed in public is written into law, but the ignorance of this law and the general prudishness of the British public combined with the over-sexualisation of breasts can result in a negative reaction to actually breastfeeding in a public place. Before I became a breastfeeding mother, I am sure I raised an eyebrow at women with a breast out attempting to feed their baby – I didn’t know where to look! The truth is that now I realise that I should have stared – perhaps then I would have known what good breastfeeding looked like, have learnt from that how to latch a baby on and found the whole experience of attempting the breastfeed for the first time more like the natural act it is supposed to be, rather than an alien act that had been hidden away from me all my life.
The NHS run an Infant Feeding Survey every five years; the last one was from 2010 published in 2012 and found the following:
Prior to birth, 75% of mothers want to breastfeed
At birth, 81% breastfed at least once
At one week, 69% are breastfeeding at all, 46% exclusively
At six weeks, 55% are breastfeeding, but there has been a big drop with only 23% doing so exclusively
At six months, 34% are breastfeeding but only 1% exclusively (despite Health Organisations’ recommendations to exclusively breastfeed until six months).
Why are so many women who wanted to breastfeed falling by the wayside?
Bah! I want to do something about this – to let them keep the faith even when it’s hard; to investigate problems and not take “you’re fine” for an answer; to feel free to do it whenever and wherever they choose; to reach out to all those who have gone before them and ask for help and for us to help them.
Who knew a year ago that I would be so passionate about this?!