Except, about breastfeeding and human lactation, there really really is.
When I am seen carrying around my text books, whilst I study for the IBCLC certification exam, and I am asked all the time why there is so much to know about breastfeeding.
You just pop your baby on and hay presto right?
Not quite, and when the collective wisdom does not include breastfeeding, parents, (including me), have to seek those who do know.
The other day, I poped on an old music album I loved as a young person and I was singing away with the exact lyrics some 15 years later without missing a beat.
In places where breastfeeding is 100% normalised, this is how it is for the breastfeeding dyad. There is no need to read, consult and be confused about the ins and outs of there normal course of breastfeeding because it is lived, seen and known in all corners of life. The questions don’t even form, its just normal.
New baby feeds for hours in an evening? Normal.
Baby feeding little and often in a heatwave? Normal.
Breastfeeding in public? Normal.
So then, much like my intermediate knowledge of Steps songs, the breastfeeding wisdom is there, ready to be applied quietly in your mind and that worried phone call to a helpline never even occurs.
Your post person, as much as your aunt is able to speak from experience and offer helpful suggestions.
This is not how it is for many parents in the UK.
We have lost this wisdom and breastfeeding is a forgin thing to many people.
It means pareents are scared to meet their babies needs, children are growing up unsure how babies are fed and all the while pregnant familes are cramming all they can into their lives before the baby comes.
In a perfect world, we’d all know about the basics of breastfeeding long before pregnancy.. but we don’t so until then we need parents supporting parents, skilled breastfeeding supporters and breastfeeding specialists.
And if you want to do thing about this gap in your own experiences, why not see if there is an antenatal breastfeeding workshop like mine, near you?
And if you are in High Wycombe and want a friendly face to answer your breastfeeding questions, PM me to find out how to work 1:1 with me.
So your partner is about to have your child and you’ve heard a lot, (how could you not?) about how breastfeeding is the best.
Thing is you’ve also heard it has disadvantages, heard not everyone can do it and your worried. You want your kid to get all the good stuff, you want your partner to get it too. It’s a tricky mind space to be in.
Human milk champion
So what can you do? What if you make yourself a pretty awesome repository of information about human milk and breastfeeding? Have you heard it takes a village to raise a child? Some of that is information, and you are well placed to be the one to consume it and replay it when needed.
New parents are filled with doubts, there isn’t a handy guide that comes out with the baby after all. But breastfeeding, there are lots of principles that when learned, can cut away lots of worry.
The vast majority of women, when well supported and informed, can fully feed their babies needs. There are some things that might delay the full milk coming in, why not start reading about them here.
What if you learn the mechanics of milk production? Remind your partner when they are confused about their breasts feeling hard and full, that they need to empty them to make more milk because the fuller they are, the more messages are sent back to the brain to make less milk.
When the baby wants to feed hour after hour, remind them they are literally growing a human from their body & how much you appreciate them riding the growth spurts. Then bring them cake.
When your baby or partner is struggling, don’t be afraid to get them skilled support. There is lots of help out there, if you know where to look. You can also search ‘breastfeeding support’ and ‘your town’ to find services near you. There are different roles, some are free, some are not, read more the types here. .
Many parents feel that without a bottle to feed, there won’t be a special time with your baby?
Understanding that neurology, your baby needs your partner more than you (mostly) to grow that big brain as big as it can be but that doesnt mean you have to be left out.
This research shows early skin to skin with your baby can help YOU to bond, some research suggests it changes your brain and lowers YOUR chance of having postnatal mood disorders.
Although I have been careful to assume how you identify, the world lags behind, replace father for whatever phrase you identify with, the effects are likely to be true for us all.
Some patents make bath time their thing, or baby massage. Some partners do an early morning walk whilst their partner rests. Some pop on a sling and teach their baby about their hobby.
If you want one to equal the warmth and comfort of milk and mum, get your hands on a sling or carrier (carrying matters sling guide) and master it now, before the baby comes.
When carried, babies cry 43% less (stats) and adding movement & the familiar sounds of your voice usually = a quiet content baby. Find out more about slings here – from a GP and carrying expert.
So if you come home to a frantic partner and frazzled baby, you know what to do!
You are a team
Stand up for your partners goals if you have a family member or friend undermining you. Maybe you will even have the fact to disabuse uncle bob, that your baby is not using your partner as a dummy.
This time in your child’s life is fleeting and the extra care of your partner now, will pay off for decades to come. If you have a girl, your grandchildren will one day benefit from your partner breastfeeding as her eggs are already within your unborn child.
Mostly, remember you are a team and when times get tough, remember you both want the best for you all.
We do the best you can, with the info and resources you have available to us at the time. We all have our limits, if you need extra support, seek it.
Your baby, and your partner don’t need you to be perfect, just good enough.
I learnt the hard way round.
On these squares, you can be forgiven for thinking life is rosey in others worlds. It’s not common for health care professionals to share their personal stories, and I am calling time on that!
Breastfeeding my children was the hardest thing I have EVER done! I didn’t even know what an IBCLC was before I desperately booked one. It as been a long bloody (literally!) road.
I was suspicious of the diagnosis of a tongue tie as a way to make money off of me and yet, I found the money and I booked that appointment that honestly, changed our lives.
Roll around to the next baby and I had many supporters on speeddail and my only regret was not reaching further into my pocket to get that home visit. Instead, I packed my 24 hour old baby up for a 3 hour round trip to see the IBCLC I knew and trusted with another tongue tied baby.
Most of my investing in endless study days, conferences and even training to be an IBCLC, have been to unpick ALL of the issues we experienced as a breastfeeding family. It has been hard. It has been emotional but it has been worth every tear if I can help YOU shed one less that I did.
I will be there, in your home if you need me. I will take a payment plan, I will find child care for my home educated children so I can come, I will stand in your corner as you fight hard to achieve your #goals
You are fierce, you deserve support that recognises that.
And this is why I do what I do.
#breastfeeding # support #motivation #journey #life #lessons #investment #wortheverypenny #makeingchange #diversityininfantfeeding
Can you do it? Yes you can! This episode and links aim to empower you, get in touch if you want to explore your options further or share your experiences 🙂
Unicef – beyond 12 months
Kellymom – milk components beyond 12 months
La Leche Leauge – breastfeeding and working
More information about your working rights from Maternity Action (not ACAS)
Direct link – on Anchor / Anchor app
This week on the podcast..
My chat with #parents on #mush last night had me all fired up so naturally, I recorded a new #podcast episode about it and the wonder of #breastfeeding #support.
Search for @beyondbabyhood on your podcast player to #find it 🙂
Stream online @ Anchor
Is it really free? Should it be?
It’s a common idea, anything that is essential in life, would be available free if it was needed.
Is there a need?
As a breastfeeding supporter, I see this applied to my specialism constantly. The need does not seem to be there with the uk having one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world. But when 74% of parents initiate breastfeeding in the UK, you have to wonder, what got in their way of reaching their feeding goals?
We need to change the conversation around breastfeeding; it is time to stop laying the blame for the UK’s low breastfeeding rates in the laps of individual women and instead acknowledge that this is a public health imperative for which government, policy makers, communities and families all share responsibility.Unicef – a call to action
Decent from within
It’s not just the general public who are opposed to the idea of parents paying for support in anyway.
It is not uncommon to see a seasoned health professional speaking against other professionals, being vehemently opposed to a private IBCLC charging parents for support.
Yet when you look at the pre registration training of health care professionals in the UK, an IBCLC is the ONLY one to have the full set of desirable topics in their training in this report.
This is where I feel all opponents are all missing the point and hurting truly innovative & caring souls.
Free at the point of care
In this western, modern world, the only truly free things, are given by loved ones. There rest of the things that seem free, have a price, even if you don’t notice you are paying it.
This what has come of the dream of the NHS 70 years ago, many services are, are the point a person access it, free.
But that is not the full picture. How is it funded? By the Government you think, yes and where do they get the money? From Tax payers. Not free then.
And how about the staff delivering the support? They are paid to be there, by whome? We follow the money back to the tax payer.
Do it yourself
We are used to idea of DIY, a video on how to do anything online and try to fix it your self tasks. Sometimes they go well and at best the efforts are a waste of time and money but at worst, goals are not met and people get hurt.
When we have a problem with our plumbing, or our car, we are all quite comfortable handing money over to a specialist who can help, as we readily recognize their skill, that we do not share.
So why is breastfeeding support any different?
If you are thinking now about the people who cannot afford it, the inequities in health care and the undeserved communities, I hear you. This is a problem for us ALL and not solved by lambasting a private specialist alone.
I have yet to meet one who has turned their back on a family in need when they cannot afford their service. I know first hand, the amount of free support, or effort to refer on breastfeeding supporters take.
Many of the supporters I know are innovating, educating and leading change. Do you want to work against these people? or with them
So maybe a way forward, is to group together, campaign for more funding and then share it.
Parents get the free support they deserve, and breastfeeding specialists get the salary and recognition they deserve.
The beginning of September marks a week focusing on reducing our waste in the UK and what better time is there to think more about how infant feeding habits might be adapted to reduce waste.
In May 2019, the UK declared a climate emergency. Many in power are focusing on the big things, but what about the small things parents can do, and make a difference within in every house hold?
The International Baby Food Action explain their idea of Green Feeding;
it means promoting, protecting and supporting optimal breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is a valuable natural resource that leaves almost no carbon or water footprints, needs no packaging and creates no air pollution from manufacturing and transport.
There is a common misconception, that breastfeeding is free. This assumption leans to another, that it’s environmentally friendly, or Zero waste, but this simply is not true. Here are some common things that go along with the modern UK feeding experience and what you can do to lessen the impact.
Growing bodies usually necessitate a set of larger clothes for a time, but do they need to be new?
Many maternity and nursing friendly clothes are lightly worn and could be passed on to a friend, or sold to another family.
The top pictured, a snazy going out top has been through many owners before me and I didn’t pay a penny for it 🙂
Beyond Babyhood, many parents find themselves wearing normal clothes and lifting up / pulling down clothes to feed/pump – nothing special needed!
Asking friends for their unused items
Second hand clothes groups – Can I breastfeed in it
I cant think of many other things in new parentdom that are covered in more excessive plastic. There is another way..
There are ones made from cotton, silk, bamboo, hemp, wool even. Some people make their own and others buy second hand. All wash and last longer than you really need them for breastfeeding journey.
They are reused in this house on bums and faces and much more 😅
Reusable cloth breast pads
Another ‘must have’ item that generates much waste, are the single use milk storage bags. Whilst they do offer a level of convience, do they to be disposable for the healthy baby?
Many patents are using multiple use items, some even recycling food jars for short term storage.
reusing plastic storage bottles
switching to glass jars for storage (not in the freezer!)
With 100’s of thousands of babies born every year, imagen how many ‘just in case’ purchases are made before birth.
See the size of the new baby’s stomach, then look at the size of the bottles above, and the ore made bottles with formula in them..
Cup feeding is safe and a green feeding alternative to bottles. Many babies over 6 months can go straight to using spouted cups & skip bottles all together.
If you do need them, often there are loved ones just waiting to do something to help you out, use them!
Not buying before you need them
Not changing that sizes
Breastfeeded Beyond Babyhood
Continuing to breastfeed along side the introduction of home foods, locally grown and made can reduce the carbon footprint of infant feeding even more.
First steps nutrition have lots of resources on eating well for little ones, with breastfeeding alongside of course 🙂
Scientific research by Katherine A. Dettwyler, PhD shows that 2.5 to 7.0 years of nursing is what our children have been designed to expect (Dettwyler 1995).Kelly Mom
In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breastmilk provides:
29% of energy requirements
43% of protein requirements
36% of calcium requirements
75% of vitamin A requirements
76% of folate requirements
94% of vitamin B12 requirements
60% of vitamin C requirements
— Dewey 2001
Breastfeeding beyond babyhood
So is breastfeeding Zero waste?
Not quite.. But maybe now you have some ideas about how to move closer towards it 🙂
What will you change? Let us know on Facebook and Instagram.
Ps.. Did you know about…
These are a new way of offering feeding & parenting support in High Wycombe, run by me a Breastfeeding Specialist and Paediatric nurse.
There are two parts, a drop-in Breastfeeding Support Session
& an Antenatal Breastfeeding Workshop.