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.
This blog is born out of the conversations I have had / seen about about Black Breastfeeding Week in September 2019.
If you have thoughts like these, read on.
- Black breastfeeding week is a USA thing.
- I support everyone who seeks my support.
- I do enough, this week does not apply to me.
It is uncomfortable
If you meet me in real life, or online, you will know I am willing to have the uncomfortable conversations and as such, I have had requests for resources from others like me, who want to work through the issues around undeserved populations and parenting / breastfeeding support in the UK.
I do not write this blog to stoke my own ego ( although it is cathartic!), I write it to share things that helped me on my journey of self discovery so far. Please do share with me what helps you on yours, let us learn together and change the unacceptable.
From the beginning
Familiarize your self why black breastfeeding week has come to the UK.
Bais (see video) needs active self reflection to unpack – this is NORMAL and a continuous process & takes time.
Understand the lack of representation in supporters affects us all, from the angle of the text books to the ‘accepted wisdom’ of breastfeeding support.
Now, if you are ready, read on.
Last year, the first UK black breastfeeding week caught my attention. I was transfixed but unsure of it’s relevance to me, confused by what it all meant and still wrapped comfortably in my own privilege.
I read blogs about why black breastfeeding week was coming to the UK and I felt unsure what I could do to effect the change needed. I started conversations that met walls. I retreated, for a while.
Roll forward to the 2018 MBRACE report, and I was firstly aghast at the statistics before us. Black women where 5 times more likely to die in the perinatal period than white women, and for no obvious reason.
I repeated steps above, hit walls and retreated again. As time passed, I became confused by the lack of public outrage. I saw more voices in the circles I enhabit, talking louder and louder about bias, racial in equality and it just couldn’t keep it in along longer.
It became clear to me that I needed to know more and so began my own personal journey into the world of my own bias, privilege as a white, middle class, woman in the UK.
In April, I poured my energy into a poster about bias, I took it to a a place with many breastfeeding supporters and I met silence. I cannot know what this means, but I assume that it means, they where not ready to do the work. You can see the poster in its full glory, by downloading it bellow.
Maybe now you are a bit further along and think..
- I don’t know where to begin
- I want to fix this
Here are some things I found helpful and you might want to look at ;
Blog – a 2019 piece, with lots to think on. Good if you feel you need to ACT NOW.
Dear white women are you behind whats suppressing black breastfeeding rates by Kimberly Seals Allers
Food for thought
Why people of color need spaces without white people by Kelsey Blackwell
Work book – Unpacking White Privilege in her book (formally downloadable workbook) – Me and White Supremacy by Laya F Saad
Book/ Audio Book – Fabulous book about the UK perspective of being a person of color, in the UK Why I am no longer talking to white people about race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
In person events
Attend a Black Breastfeeding Week event near you, this one is streaming online for £5 tomorrow !
One to wait for…
I am Not your Baby Mother by Candice Brathwaite
To sum up…
When we stop and examine our own behaviors, we can check ourselves having different expectations of and reactions to people who do not look like us. It is unethical, once a harmful practice or action has been pointed out to us, to continue to act in the same wayTessa Clark April 2019
Social Media accounts to follow..
Nov Reid – Anti Racism speaker
Abuela Doula – Doula trainer for BAME familes
1-2-1 Doula – Doula, educator, running BBW 2919 in London
Podcast episode 3
Supporting loved one in their own feeding journey can be emotional.
It can be hard.
Sometimes your passion for breastfeeding can even backfire.
In this episode I discuss my 3 top tips for doing the best by you and the other parent.
1. Listen – Listen and listen again.
2. Love – nurture the mother.
3. Empower – with reputable information and support.
Stream online @ Anchor
Are they selling the right message?
There is a baby show in the county I work within, this month. I remember visiting one, heavily pregnant with my first born son and I thought of the type of help I needed then.
I didn’t know what I know now, two babes later. At the time, like many of us, I thought I needed the latest X or Y and the reality of it is, I didn’t need any of it.
What might have actually offered improvement on newborn days, would have been meeting a Doula, meeting other breastfeeding mothers, meeting the people who would go on to support me for many months after my breastfeeding struggles smoothed out.
I had to email
So I decided to email the person running the show, find out about a stall and I had so many visions in my head about being the antidote to some of the madness at the events.
The response was generic and the price of £75 a stall had me reeling.
At that price, what local support service for parents could afford to come?
So this was my email back.
Dear generic baby show,
I have had a look though your exhibitor pack and it all looks lovely.
I notice that your shows tour all the large towns and I wonder if have policy for local community engagement?
Whilst I understand that as a business model you are working with big businesses and generating revenue, but as a breastfeeding supporter, I know the impact that parents can experience by being linked up with their local support systems before they have their child. I believe you are well placed to increase many of these services visibility.
As you may know, many of the NHS infant feeding support services are being cut around the country and parents are being left with little support and this is where specialists like myself are trying to fill the gaps in provision with paid and voluntary run services.
Many of the products being sold at events like yours are not essential parts of parenting, they are luxuries. To balance the ethics of this, I urge you to consider engaging with members of the local support communities to balance this out.
I am unable to book a stall at £75 at this time due to finances. Parent support like I give, is not a lucrative business, but it is an essential one.
What are your thoughts?
What do you think? Should baby shows have an obligation to engage in community services? Would have meeting support services in pregnancy made a difference to your post postpartum days?
Many new parents (& many health care professionals) assume, the further away from new born days they get, the less breastfeeding questions they will have.
It is not uncommon, however, for a parent to suddenly realise the surpassed their goals and beyond babyhood, new challenges and questions arise. Then it can be hard to find answers you can trust, in a world of internet searches and lack of access to peers who might have continued breastfeeding.
So here today, I am sharing with you a question and my response that, I hope will help some of you 🙂
I hope you don’t mind me asking, but do you have any advice for breastfeeding gymnastics? Little one just can’t stay still and it’s making me sore. Its at it’s worse when he’s settling for his midday nap.Breastfeeding mum & >1 year old
This lovely coined phrase describes the usually mobile feeding little one, who wants to access milk in a variety of poses, often without unlactching.
Not to be confused with the cuter, younger baby who might grab legs and wiggle away whilst feeding, it is often the full body movers that get the patents most frustrated.
Not all little ones will do this, but for many parents, it’s like someone informed their little ones that milk can be drank at any of the 360° of the breast. These budding scientists/ gymnasts must discover if this is true!
For some, it’s an amusing phase that is over before long, but for others, like our questioner, it can cause some problems. Here are somethings to consider & keep you on track to meet your feeding goals.
Although latching IS possible from all angles, it’s quite likely that by the time whole body has moved to get over a shoulder, the nipple is no longer far back within the little ones mouth where it needs to be for pain free feeding.
It’s probably wise at this point to break the seal of the latch (a little finger in the corner of their mouth/ over their teeth) should allow you to remove your nipple safely. They can relatch in the new position and this might be ok. It’s the best way to avoid damage at least.
Some patents will find in addition to the gymnastics, their kid is on and off all day long. La Leche League Canada set out why this is normal, and some strategies you can try to combat it here.
New baby, new rules
Every parent and little one, have a set of norms, rythems and rules unique to just them. For a seasoned parent, they will learn how their children differ to one another. For the new parent, they will notice their norms might be different to peers.
In this context, especially with the growing little ones, for many, a shift occurs with feeding. A truly balanced, happy breastfeeding relationship beyond babyhood, is an evolving process give and take.
Think about the first 6 months of your baby’s life, where you fed them every time they moved and and some of us thought it might never end. Then before long, food is on the table and your little one has the ever expanding ability to communicate their feelings, desires and needs.
Many parents can start to feel touched out, overwhelmed by the constant need for closeness, milk and play. Adding in gymnastics can push parents to their limits and this is where nursing manners come in.
This is something that comes up often, when a parent contacts a supporter and says they are done with breastfeeding. Many times, they are only fed up, touched out, and setting a new limit can help.
This link contains a page I have re read often & sent out even more often. When though it’s written in the context of breastfeeding more than one little one at a time, it’s wisdom is applicable to all parents breastfeeding beyond babyhood.
They will look different for everyone, for some it might have been there from the start (no nipple tweaking!) Or it might develop over time into something like, no climbing with nap time feeds.
It’s a journey not a race
Where ever life takes you and your little ones, breastfeeding gymnastics is likely to be a short phase within it. Do what feels right to you and reach out to other parents who get it, for support. You got this 💪
Please leave you tips and comments below & for personised support, get in touch.