Why attend a breastfeeding event?

Why attend a breastfeeding event?

Did you notice the online chatter recently, about breastfeeding weeks and celebrations?


If this is your first year as a breastfeeding parent, you might wonder what they are all about and why someone might go to an event about it.


Breastfeeding used to be the unquestioned norm of feeding and raising babies but a few generations ago things started to shift.


Why do they exist


This shift (& many other factors) has left parents today without the rich, knowledgeable support networks of the past.


This means not only is their neighbor ill equipped to normalize night time wakefulness, but also your health care professionals are less well informed. Pair this with less funding for services means, there is not enough skilled support available at the time when parents need it most.



And so, less parents are able to reach their breastfeeding goals and they carry those feelings around forever. These weeks are for you too as many of us long to hear parents say, I wanted to breastfeed, & I did!


World Breastfeeding Week


is celebrated around the world in the first week of August every year, since 1992 when a landmark world wide collaboration began to protect and promote breastfeeding.


Another very important week, is Black Breastfeeding Week, do check that out too 🙂


So where do I come in to this?


Last year I hosted the Big Latch on, another global initiative designed to unite breastfeeding patents and supporters within local communities world wide.


It was a low key but well attended event where we met in the Rye park and all latched our breastfeeding kids on at the designated time.


The weather was glorious and parents enjoyed chatting with one another but I knew we could do more this year!



So this year I am celebrating World Breastfeeding Week by hosting a local Global Big Latch On but adding in workshops aimed at empowering local parents.


I teamed up with The Village Midwife and Helen – Born Smiling for something even more super!


What do parents get?


Aside from meeting other local patents, breastfeeding together in public and eating cake you mean?


Realizing you are not alone


Our workshops aim to normalize birth, breastfeeding and the transition into parenthood. They can be so many feelings, so much conflicting information and it can be hard to know where to turn.


Meeting skilled supporters


So meeting local, skilled supporters in one place is very handy! You can bet we know most of the other people in area too and would be happy to signpost you on 🙂


Meet other breastfeeding families


Many parents also feel quite isolated if they do move beyond their breastfeeding goals as only 1% are still breastfeeding for around 6 months, with even less than 0.5% breastfeeding after 1 year.


Be empowered to meet your goals


So finding other breastfeeding parents can be hard beyond babyhood, but as you might have guessed, I know a fair few 😉


Win a raffle prize


Local business women have donated vouches for their birth and baby related businesses, from baby yoga, to a postnatal support course. A full list is coming soon, but you gotta be in it to win it!



Book me in!


So if you are local to High Wycombe or are willing to travel, (we have a train station) Book here for Big Latch on & Workshops .


Find out about events near you for World Breastfeeding Week .


Find out about the Big Latch On, and find an event near you.


Is that even a real thing?


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.









Study





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.





Not uncommon





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.





Maybe..





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.


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