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
Another day and another common query from a parent. This one wants to share all the positive effects of carrying with her pregnant friend & gift her a stretchy wrap.
My friend is having a baby in Nov and I want to gift her a stretchy for those first weeks and months! Any brand you recommend?A caring friend, 2019
I could give a one line answer & a link to my personal favorite brand BUT not only is that not my style, it doesn’t fit with my desire to empower parents.
So wether you are wanting to buy a wrap for a friend, or looking for yourself, I hope this information will help.
Stretchy Wrap (Video)
What is a stretchy wrap?
Let’s start at the beginning.
- A stretchy wrap is a long, stretchy length of t shirt like fabric
- They usually come in one size fits most length.
- They are often a cotton blended with something stretchy.
- Most often used between newborn and around 3 months, although many use longer.
- Two main sub types, stretching in two ways, or one.
One way & two way
The most common type seen on market, is the two way stretchy wrap.
Two way stretchy
- This means it has stretch in the fabric horizontally and vertically.
- It is very easy for someone learning to get the baby in and snug.
- As the baby grows, the strechyness means the baby will sink from where you first had them in the wrap.
- This will happen eventually in either type, although oftern later in a one way stretchy wrap.
Link – two stretchy wrap tutorial
One way stretchy
- Same as above except –
- Fabric stretches most in one direction only.
- Requires tightening more like a woven wrap (not stretchy).
- Some parents find they can carry their baby longer before needing a new type of sling
Link – Tighen one way stretchy wrap
- In short, you get what you pay for with stretchy wraps.
- You can pick one up for £6 BUT honestly, it’s worth the investment in a bigger brand.
- There are free hire schemes for newborns around the county, is there one near you?
- Look around your online market places, second hand slings are an affordable option for many !
- The colours and patterns do not affect their function, but choosing one you like might make you smile on a tough day.
- Investing in a higher quality stretchy wrap, often means they can last thought multiple children, and be lent to friends with bumps.
- I personally, I have 6 types in my teaching bag but I love most, an organic bamboo Hana baby wrap 😉
Want to know more about these types of slings? You can read more in the links and book to work with me 1:1 online and in person in Buckinghamshire.
find a local sling library and skilled helpers
Everything you’d ever need to know about stretchy slings (inc how to videos)
Stating to sag or feeling to heavy?
When babies enter the world, they expect to be, and need to be carried by us.
Be this in our arms or with the aid of slings and carriers, the positive effects are wide reaching for baby, parents and society as whole.
Positive effects for baby
- Encourages bonding
- Helps to regulate body systems and growth
- Promotes and encourages breastfeeding
- Reduces crying, often calming for fussy babies.
- Encourages social and language development
Positive effects for parents
- Heightens awareness and responsiveness to baby
- Help with perinatal mood disorders
- Increase Paternal confidence and family connections
- ’Hands free’ for tasks and getting out the house.
- Provide comfort and nurturing for older children
Positive effects for society
- Strong bonds are linked to more resilient children
- Carrying keeps families active
- associated higher breastfeeding rates
- Carried babies have less ear infections
- Improves perinatal mental health, good for everyone!
Read more (link)⠀⠀⠀
If you want to read more positive effects, read the original article here by Dr Rosie Knowles @ Carrying Matters.
Read more (Book)
If you want to know even more about babywearing, it’s history, the science and why it matters to everyone that we carry our babies.
Try Why Babywearing Matters
It’s written by Rosie, a GP who is also a bit of a babywearing community legend and I love love love this book. Well done Dr Rosie Knowles!
Here are my top 6 sleep resources, good for parents and professionals alike.
I use these often and found many of them helpful personally too. Is your favourite here?
Reasons why night waking is the biological norm by LLL Greast Britain
Baby Sleep Information Scource (BASIS) –
This website presents research evidence about biologically normal sleep for human babies.
Why your baby’s sleep matters by Sarah Ockwell-Smith
A pocket sized, both filled with research and real stories to empower and erasure you.
Sweet Sleep by LLLi
How to get more sleep, safely, what ever stage you are at.
Holistic Sleep Coaching by Lyndsey Hookway
Alternatives to sleep training, aimed at supporters.
Boobin’ all nigh, boobin’ all day by Meg Negal
Normaling nightime patenting from the Milk Meg.
Aunt bossy, nosy neighbors and pushy parents at the school gates all feel like they have a say on when your growing breastfed little one weans.
You might feel pressure to wean due to cultural/historical reasons, religious reasons and even medical reasons. If it doesn’t feel or sound right, I encourage you to question it and seek second, more specialized or culturally appropriate opinion.
Here’s why you can (and probably should) ignore them with confidence.
Spend any time with a breastfeeding family and you will quickly see the many reasons a little one will ask to feed. A loud noise scared them, they bumped their head, someone new is in their home, they are tired, their teeth are sore and on and on. Breastfeeding is more than just food, and for many families its a mothering tool they wouldn’t quickly give up.
Ask any sibling to a breastfed little one what they need at any moment of upset, they will tell you the baby needs boobie, mummy milk, or whatever their phrase for it is. If small children can see this one thing fixes many, why do us grown ups struggle with it so much?
2 years OR beyond.
The World Health Organisation recognize the important part breastfeeding has in a child’s early years, recommending breastfeeding continue to 2 years OR beyond. This is the bit people get stuck on or forget all together.
Most places I go, I will end up talking to someone about breastfeeding in some way or another. I think of it like smokers all getting the urge at once, see a breastfed baby and ops all the other breastfed little ones want some. Similar happens with grown ups wanting to talk about it. Yes you probably hear more about the disapproving public in the media but this has not been my experience.
ABM’s recent social media campaigns #feedon give brilliant visual proof of the many parents feeding beyond babyhood with such tender moments captured.
I remember when a guy saved my toddler from some impending calamity at a conference center. Next it was time for cuddles and milk and we had a long chat about his own nursing toddler at home. I listened as he told me of the wonders of breastfeeding beyond babyhood, how it was a fabulous parenting tool but his wife where fretting how to get her to stop as she was turning two next week.
I listened as he (mis quoted) the WHO guidance for breastfeeding duration and validated his feelings and concerns. I let him into the secrete that over the next 48 hours, the conference center was going to be filled with very normal, very well adjusted breastfeeding 3,4,5 + year olds who all still breastfeed.
These families knew the ease of breastfeeding though Chicken pox, travel on airplanes, though to reducing sibling rivalry with tandem nursing.
When ever we passed each other over the weekend, we shared a smile, I hope I gave him the gift of another perspective.
Science measures for us the nutritional reasons why breast milk continues to be designed to continue beyond babyhood, but when we look at only this, we are missing how as a parenting or mothering tool, there is nothing that can do so much within one package!
Learning to Dance
Many parents find as their little ones grow, the breastfeeding relationship becomes more like a dance with both a partnership element and need for your own boundaries. Without them, parents can get to a point of feeling so overwhelmed that they want to give up breastfeeding all together. This is rarely necessary and by working alongside a skilled breastfeeding supporter, it’s nearly always possible to find some adjustments to try to maintain all the benefits of breastfeeding a little longer.
Wherever you are at, I encourage you to acknowledge all the ways breastfeeding is the seamless answer to so many parenting problems. Don’t be in a hurry to give it up for someone else’s reasons.
La Leche League – Still Nursing?
Kelly Mom – Breastfeeding Past Infancy
La Leche League – Thinking of Weaning?
Have you listened to the Beyond Babyhood podcast yet?
The WHO code & your business.
So you run a baby business and some has mentioned the WHO code on marketing baby milk. They might have suggested that you are unintentionally violating it.
You are confused right? You are passionate about breastfeeding, how could you be doing something unhelpful?
Here’s what you need to know. This is COMPLEX issue. This is brief .
Thing 1 This is not just about hippies boycotting Nestle
Thing 2 Protects all, not just breastfeeding families
Parents need impartial information about feeding their babies, free from misleading or idealised marketing. It is available here via First Steps Nutrition
Thing 3 Advertising influences our behaviours
In the new age of sponsorship and social media, companies are finding even more inventive ways to reach parents. If you are paid by a code violating company to advertise their product, you are complicit in their sneaky ways. Do you mean to be?
Thing 4 When you know better, you can do better.
What you say and do online will reach many people. Make sure the partnerships and giveaways you do, are inline with your personal values.
The British Medical Journal just ended their advertising agreements with baby milk companies , its an interesting read.
Thing 5 There are good companies out there!
The Global Big Latch on have a fab recent blog with examples,
Think of a big brand in the baby world, there is a large chance they are
Known violators, Medela, Lansinoh, Mothercare.
Thing 6 Parents are being misled
All Party Parliamentary Group on Infant Feeding and Inequalities (APPGIFI) was formed to address these issues. You can invite your local MP to attend.
Thing 7 The ripples spread
The lure of a network of breastfeeding events with freebies is a sneaky way of increasing brand loyalty. You have a platform, why not use it to explain why you will *not participate in, or partner with events & companies who undermine breastfeeding?
Thing 8 Ethical sources of funding matter
There are many sources of funding for small businesses, other than the comity coin types. Usually, getting in contact with your local council will have resources. There is national lottery funding and many more. Yes this will take more effort, but it is honestly the right thing to do.
Thing 9 Supermarket community schemes
The WHO code and UK LAW prohibit a number of commonly ignored practices around sales of baby milk & food. For this reason, many organizations prohibit the use of their schemes. If you use one, you may find yourself being turned away from events who need to be WHO code compliant.
Thing 10 Closing off collatorations
Be mindful of your partnerships when you are seeking collaborative projects with other organisations. You may find, that Baby friendly healthcare teams refuse to work with you if you are unaware of the WHO code. An International Board certified Lactation Consultant would not be able to work with any known code violators or with someone who is in breach of their code of ethics. (Conflict of interests)
An International Board certified Lactation Consultant would not be able to work with any known code violators or with someone who is in breach of their code of ethics. (Conflict of interests)
Baby Milk Action (UK), Baby Feeding Law Group, The International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN0 for reports and monitoring
First Steps Nutrition Impartial information on baby milk & food <5 years
Unicef Baby Friendly Health care teams
We are standing in our uniforms and she interrupts my conversation to ask, “Is that even a real thing? This lactation thingy? “
There is no attempt to hide the contempt in her voice, neither the less, I reply with confidence.
“Yes! My full title will be an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) when I pass the exam in October. “
I puff with pride with anticipation of my impending status.
A medical consultant in the room, back turned to me, shares a joke at my expense with the questioning lady. They both laugh and I falter.
I have been carting my 1000+ word textbook around with me for over a year now, fitting study into every available moment of downtime.
Once a shiny new, this expensive textbook now sports pages that are scared with notes and the spine that held it together, gave out a while ago.
Standing in a room of moking health professionals, I feel like the glue holding us both together evaporated in an instant.
This is not an uncommon experience I am told as in the UK, IBCLC’s are not a recognised professional group. A lactation consultant is not a protected term either. Yet all around the world, it is the premier, gold standard in lacation education & support.
Through their training, an IBCLC has the skills to support every parent, from the normal course of breastfeeding to helping a family navigate the complexities of lactation during cancer treatment. You will find them working as Midwives, leading Infant feeding teams within NHS trusts, and running drop in clinics within the community.
Some IBCLC’s work even harder, to enter the field as a non health care professional investing even more time and money that their health care counter parts. It is a much needed profession, with much research backing up their value.
I have been on the journey here since the first mother-baby duo I supported on a maternity ward as a college student. Since then, I have spent 1000’s of hours (paid and voluntary) & thousands of pounds working towards this goal.
Parents want to breastfeed
Here in the UK, 80% of mothers start breastfeeding, but by 6 months 1% remains breastfeeding. That’s a sharp drop off and its not down to just one thing.
Since starting this job, I have heard all the staff feeding journeys and in their vulnerable moments even seen their tears. Very few met their breastfeeding goals and even though it’s not in my job description as a Paediatric nurse to listen, it’s in my nature as a Breastfeeding Counsellor, so listen I do.
So I hear the grief behind the words, I see how it translates into resentment and undermining of other professionals & parents alike. This is not sustainable.
It’s time for change
I remember a conversation with one member of staff, who was so angry about the levels of training of health professionals helping her family. She was enraged the IBCLC they had eventually seen, said they did not fail, it was the system that failed them.
I shared with her the amount of training on breastfeeding in the various health care professionals education and we both agreed, parents & health care workers desedrve better.
There is no one easy way to change the systemic bias above but what if we rethink our approach?
What if our next efforts to normative breastfeeding start with the next generation in schools. The Association of Breastfeeding Mothers has released free lesson plans for teachers & I love this idea.
Reading through some of the exercises though, I realised that some of the content would be news to people I work within hospitals.
But if generations of children know the basics of breastfeeding, the ones who enter healthcare will already be better breastfeeding advocates without any change in training. It might just work.
Either way, the next time someone asks me,
“Is that even a real thing? This lactation thingy? “
I shall reply;
“Why yes it is, and the fact you asked illustrates perfectly why.”
Then again, maybe not 😉
Tessa Clark BSc, RNc
Balances being a Paediatric nurse, Breastfeeding counselor (private and voluntary) & IBCLC exam candidate Oct 2019 with motherhood.
In this blog:
Outgrowing first sling
Holidaying with slings
The title of this blog is a typical query for a babywearing consultant. Like most of the parents I work with, this mum has chosen to tune into her child’s needs, not turn away from them. She has met a challenge and bravely, seeks help.
Beyond Babyhood Consultation
Fast forward to our first meeting, mum explains she has a last minute invite to a holiday with friends and there is absolutely no space for a buggy.
She has seen a woven wrap back carry and wants to learn how to do it for her holiday. Maybe you have already notices, this isn’t where she ends up!
Mama explains further how her sons differing physical abilities, translates into extra cuddles when they are out and about. He is used to resting his tired legs within a pushchair or a much loved sling.
Outgrowing first sling
The problem is, this sling is now a wee bit small., no longer supporting his growing body.
It works in a pinch, and her son chimes in to show me how it digs into his legs and hurts.
We talk a bit more around safety, skill, budget and time available before the holiday.
This mum was keen to see the carry her friend had shown her, so I show her how it’s done.
Together we notice the how it’s not the right solution for them.
At this point mum and big boy seem to deflate a little. It’s not uncommon for the end result to not match the parents initial idea. Options and troubleshooting however are what I am trained to work around.
Adapting what you have already
So next I show her how she could wrap a scarf around the bottom of her existing sling to spread the weight of her son’s bottom. This seems like a workable emergency solution and we talk about the possibility of visiting the local sling library, who I know have a dedicated sling for older, diversely abled children .
Visit a sling library
I then float the idea of looking at the preschool sized Connecta/Integras and mum admits she has been looking at them but didn’t like the patterns available at the time. Ah I think, I bet this is where her heart lies. It’s like a bell goes off in my head and I know we have reached both the ‘ah ha’ moment and the limit of our time together.
Buying a larger carrier
We part and I follow up with the links I promised and a willingness to keep in touch. A few days later, I hear the Connecta is on its way to her, just in time for their trip.
Holidaying with slings
Just today, I get these photos in my inbox of this glorious duo. Look at their smiling faces, their glowing skin and hooray for accessing the places untouchable by pushchair!
6 Top reasons to use a sling on holiday;
💜 pack up small
💙 carry tired legs
💚 access remote places
💛 a place to nap
🧡 reconnect whilst moving
❤ a safe space in new surroundings
Meeting our children’s needs beyond babyhood can feel like a struggle sometimes, but with a bit of skilled troubleshooting, there is often a way that can meet most needs and situations.
You are quite unlikely to regret choosing to meet your child’s need for closeness and connection as, lets face it, we all crave it too right?
What has worked for you in the past? I’d love to hear your stories too, please get in touch.
Story shared with permission
Find a sling library near you.
Book with me today and you too will have a smile this big 💚
None of us are perfect, we live busy lives, often juggling many mental processes at once. We try our best to listen to those we are supporting but sometimes we may fall short.
Honing in on listening skills can really help us offer more effective support. The photos bellow are adapted from a list by the Bloemfontein Samaritans. I discovered them as part of my breastfeeding specialist training and adapted them to share with you all 🙂
This series of images is about listening skills and what it looks like when you are listening and when you are not.
I believe they are applicable to all situations, in all interactions with others, what ever your role is within that moment. I find these helpful in all my roles, from health care professional to babywearing consultant.
I hope that with awareness ( and practice) we can strive to be aware of our flaws and do better for those we interact with on a professional and personal level.
You are not listening when…
|You say you understand before you know me well enough.|
You have an answer for my problem before I have finished telling you what it is.
You sense that my problem is embarrassing and you try to avoid it.
You are dying to tell me all your experiences which make mine seem unimportant.
You need to feel successful You come up with all the clever answers which have little to do with me.
You cut me off before I have finished speaking.
You are trying to sort out all the details and are not aware of the feelings behind the words.
You are listening when…
|You come quietly into my world and let me be.|
You try to understand me when I do not make much sense.
You hold back your desire to give me advice.
You don’t take my problem from me but trust me to deal with it my own way.
You give me enough room to discover for myself why I feel upset and enough time to think for myself what is best.
You allow me the dignity of making my own decisions even though you may think I am wrong.
You don’t tell me that funny story you are just burning to tell.
You realise that how I take from you leaves you a bit tired and drained.
You grasp my point of view even when it goes against your sincere convictions.
You spend a short valuable time with me and make me feel it is forever.
|I invite you to have a look through them & reflect upon how they make you feel.|
Do they ring true to you?
Do any remind you of a recent interaction?
Is there anything you will try to apply to your our skill set?
Are there any you would add?
There is no need to share your thoughts, but naturally, I’d love to hear them.
Post activity thoughts..
We are not aiming to be free from our flaws, only aware of them so we can notice them in the moments that matter the most. When will you next give the gift of listening?
|This blog piece forms part of my Slingababy consultancy project, we are tasked with sharing good quality information to benefit the whole baby wearing community. |
|Photo Credit – Alex Cetra Photography |
Woven Wrap – Didymos Arora