Adventures of a Free-From Clothbum Mum!

Cloth nappies, dairy-free living, reviews and parental ramblings!

World Breastfeeding Week

on August 1, 2012

This week, August 1-7 2012, is World Breastfeeding Week and I thought that I really shouldn’t let it go by without putting up a blogpost. Raising awareness of the benefits and ease of breastfeeding is something that I believe in very strongly nowadays and if I can do my little bit, then I’ll do my best!

Although I knew I always wanted to breastfeed, I wasn’t really that clued up on it. I know that sounds silly – you just pop the baby on and it feeds, right? I found, initially, feeding rather tough as we had an undiagnosed tongue tie which really affected my Monkey’s latch and, therefore, my supply – as he wasn’t stimulating it enough.

But I was lucky – really lucky. My local breastfeeding supporters (plus some very good friends, including one who is training up in bf peer support) really helped me, got me the information and support that I needed and my son got his frenulum divided (the bit under the tongue that can be too tight). It made a whole world of difference. We could feed properly and he is now, after a rocky start, an exclusively breastfed baby.

Now that we’re about to reach his first birthday, I’ve had a few comments made about ‘well, he’ll be moving onto normal milk soon’. Now. Um…. normal milk? I don’t want to get into any arguments here, but surely ‘normal’ milk for babies is breastmilk and not milk from a cow? The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommend breastfeeding to two years and beyond, which is something that (I have to be honest) I didn’t know when I first became a Mum and I’m sure that many other Mums don’t know that either.

So, why is choosing to breastfeed your crawler/toddler one of those things that courts potential controversy? In our society it’s becoming far more acceptable to breastfeed a teeny little baby in public, which is something that has to be applauded – but if someone is to do the same with an older baby, it’s not as socially acceptable as it should be. The fantastic thing about something like World Breastfeeding Week is that it raises awareness of breastfeeding in general and will, hopefully, get people more aware of just how wonderful feeding your baby/toddler is.

I would never dream of walking over to a formula-feeding mother and give her my point of view on her giving her toddler/young child a drink in that manner as it really isn’t my place to do so. How you choose to feed your baby is up to you but I’m obviously rather biased when I say that being able to have your baby snuggle into you and have a feed from you is a wonderful feeling. It really is! I find it a remarkably relaxing, calm moment in our otherwise busy day and I can feel him utterly relax against me. It’s lovely.

It’s also an amazing soothing aid and seems to really calm little ones down if they’ve hurt themselves or aren’t feeling well. Doctors thoroughly recommend breastfeeding babies straight after they’ve have any injections as it really helps to soothe them. I’m not going to talk too much about the obvious biological benefits to breastfeeding in this post, but what I find amazing is that breastmilk cannot be replicated synthetically in any way. Formulas just don’t come close (which they do state on their packaging). Scientists are discovering more and more about this wonderful liquid gold and I love the fact that if I’m ill, my milk helps to provide my little one with immunity against the bugs I have. Clever stuff!

If someone had told me before I had my little boy that I’d still be breastfeeding a year later, with no plans of stopping in the near future – I don’t think I would have believed them. But, with breastfeeding I’ve found the key to it all is to just relax. Don’t set yourself a goal past the next day! When your baby is small, I’m not going to lie – they will pretty much feed most of the time. You’ll feel, somedays, like the little sweetie has never actually unlatched itself from you and I know that many women find that rather hard. But, those days pass (I promise) and it does get easier. There will also be nights where your baby will feed, feed, FEED. Growth spurts are normal and babies just want to suckle a lot. This will help your milk to come in more and the baby is trying to up your supply. I wish I’d known that at first! It made a lot of sense to me when I found out about it from a friend.

But, now – my little nearly toddler is an absolute pro. He’s actually amazing to watch! I know a few mums who have found it hard when their babies started to slap/hit their breasts and twiddle their nipples. The thing that I’ve found is that the baby knows what they want (milk) and how to get it working for them. Slapping/hitting is obviously to be discouraged but in the context of breastfeeding, the baby is often trying to get the flow of the milk altered in some way (often to quicken the flow) and my little man will use his hands to get the flow that he requires. Babies are generally not being naughty when doing this, but a gentle hand to move them away when they get overenthusiastic is sometimes a good (and necessary) thing!

Apart from his morning and evening feeds, my little man is quite happy to go off to nursery and not have a feed from me during the day. I send in expressed milk, which he has in his meals and as a drink, but he often prefers water and waits until he gets home to Mummy and his boobs! So, stopping breastfeeding before you go back to work after maternity leave is something that I’ve found isn’t necessary. A good breast pump and somewhere at work to pump/store milk (your employer should help you with this) is all that’s needed.

When I’m with Monkey during the day he’ll often come over and have a feed. This could be before he has a nap or just because he wants one during the middle of a play session. He’s now remarkably efficient and a feed generally will take less than ten minutes, unless he’s using me to soothe himself and/or is nodding off in my arms. It’s so much less of a faff than messing around with bottles, boiling up a kettle, etc, etc (we can’t use cartons as our little one is lactose intolerant, so each feed has to be made on demand if we were to use formula). I love how easy and mess free it is!

So – hurrah for breastfeeding and hurrah for World Breastfeeding Week. At the end of the day, we all have a choice of how we feed our babies but at least with weeks like this, awareness can be raised that it’s a brilliant way to feed your baby, a fantastic lifestyle choice (you can do it anywhere and it requires no extra bits and bobs) and a brilliant financial decision (it’s FREEEEEEE!). So – go on. Spread the word!

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