In many respects, the bulk of what parents need to know is as old as the sky’s are blue. There is however, a growing need to evolve with the birthing population of today.
Take the toy pictured, not quite as old as the hills but sturdy enough to pass though generations of children to my own. It’s capable of entertaining children, parents recognise it with fond memories but would it hold any relevance to a family of today with all it’s digital trappings.
I review the texts that I have trained with in with the benefit of all the learning I have done since and I am struck constantly by one glaring assumption.
These books, that many health care professionals, breastfeeding supporters and mothers alike, gleam their technical knowledge from are all based from an assumption on writiters norm being the norm. As these authors are mostly white, mostly privaiaged, there is are whole sections of our birthing population in the uk who would be poorly served by theses resources.
I think next about the services that are run, in the ways they have usually been run, with shrinking or demonishing budgets. They offer a fabulous services in many places around the UK but even some of these are closed without warning as money is needed else where.
So maybe it’s time we get out thinking caps on and we rethink the way we support families who want to breastfeed and deserve support for the entire journey of lactating.
The digital age brings many trappings but also more opportunities. Some of the underserved members of my own local community do not feel comfortable to come along to a group, but are willing to pick up the phone.
Others might send a pm on Facebook or follow an influencer on Instagram gleeming information from their peers comments.
What if we rebuilt services from the ground up and adjusted how they run to great equitable care. This is different that it being available to all, this is activity accounting for barriers to services and making it easier for these families to get the same level of care. This isn’t just a nice thing to do, but what NEEDS to happen.
I meet so many people who say they wish they knew x, y or z when their littles ones where small. If I had a time machine I would happily send the information back to them but alaalas, I do not.
Time for change
So instead I shall build my services from the ground up, adjusting for those less served whilst also utilising the technology of the age.
For me this means asking if those who can afford the fee to attend a session run by me, to pay for a second for someone who is less able to afford or access support.
It means meeting in a neutral place, where many members of my community are used to meeting. It means not asking the local health care team to join in just now. It means trying something new, probably at a cost to me, to better server the wonderful families I meet. Many of whom don’t need much, but asking your questions to someone who will listen and help can be the make or break in breastfeeding journies sometimes.
So if you are local to High Wycombe or can get here by public transport, I hope my soon coming Sunday Sessions might be start of that change.
More to come soon.
Every year, all around the world, from 1 to 7 August is World Breastfeeding Week. Individuals and organisations alike, are encouraged celebrate, collaborate and empower parents to get more families breastfeeding and for longer.
This year, I was able to bring something new to my local town and community.
For The Big Latch on & Workshops, we met at the local Library for a 2 hour session with workshops from myself, a local independent Midwife, a Doula and an early year educator to help with the children.
For good measure, we added in a Big Latch On and the result was a whole lot of love and fun. See photos and read more about it here.
Breastfeeding Myths and Questions
All of the parents in attendance where given an index card and asked to write either a myth about breastfeeding that they have heard, or a question they had and give them back to me. We then discussed the answers as a room, with input and ideas from other supporters in the room too.
It turns out, the 20 mins I allocated myself to answer the questions was woefully short. We got through a few but honestly, we could have talked about most of them for 20 mins alone. and some, many hours!
So my promise to those in the room, was that I would blog the answers to their questions (see images bellow) and share. It also turns out, that I don’t know how to do a quick answer 😉 so here is part one with more to follow soon… ish.
Part 1 questions
- Can I drink wine when feeding?
- How do I know if I have mastitis if I don’t have pink nipples of white breasts? ( I can’t see a red mark on dark skin)
- Can you REALLY make breast milk if you are adopting a newborn and haven’t had kid previously? How does it work?
- What to do when baby has tongue tie? What else about the physiology of a babies mouth can hinder breastfeeding / other issues?
I could write a separate blog on each of these questions as there is so much to say on them all. Your interests might not run so deep so I have tried to keep to the main points for each but if you want to know more, or have information/experience to share, please do get in touch!
Can I drink wine when feeding?
The guidelines on drinking alcohol in pregnancy has swung backwards and forwards over the course of the past years so I wouldn’t blame you if you where confused about if it is safe to drink Alcohol whilst breastfeeding.
The short answer is yes, you can. A glass of wine, with your family as you eat your meal is A OK. However, if you feel to drunk to parent, you are probably also too drunk to breastfeed.
Whilst not feeding, you might need to express to relive engorgement during, but you need only wait until you feel sober again to breastfeed as your blood and milk have the same levels of Alcohol in them.
Knowing this Pumping and dumping for one drink is over the top but do not just take my word for it, see bellow for the science.
Dr Jack Newman, rewound IBCLC, explores the science and he reckons the perceived rules around drinking alcohol act as a barrier to longer breastfeeding and better all round health for everyone (due to lower disease rates, not more alcohol ;)).
This Blog by UK IBCLC Philippa Pearson-Glaze is also very comprehensive.
How do I know if I have mastitis if I don’t have pink nipples of white breasts?
( I can’t see a red mark on dark skin)
This is a fabulous question and related to many questions being asked since the 2018 MBRACE report starkly pointed out the difference in perinatal mortality rates in the UK for black and brown parents. ( see link for more information).
When asked, most health care professionals and supporters will tell you the common text book answer and then look puzzled when I point out theirs and the books assumption that the lactating person is white.
The lady who wrote this question told us her story of mastitis and miss diagnosis, another mother in the room told a similar which had a hospital admission for sepsis. Everyone was shocked by the experiences they had, a few of us though, where not so surprised. That could be a whole other blog post so back to what to look for when your skin comes in a different colour that the text book, when you suspect mastitis.
You might see..
- Swollen breast due to poor/non existent drainage.
- You might notice a painful, hotter area on your breast
- You might feel a harder area, a lump but this is not always present.
- Some parents report feeling like being hit with the flu all of a sudden, others others mention vertigo and feeling dizzy.
If a milk duct is blocked, unless there is milk at the tip of the nipple, this will be only a subtle, if at all visible difference. There is often nipple pain when you press where the suspected blockage is, and a small swelling might be visible after a feed/pumping session.
Read more? Plugged Ducts and Mastitis – Kelly Mom (US IBCLC)
A book worth waiting for (2020)- I am Not your Baby Mother by Candice Brathwaite
Black Breastfeeding Week Celebration – Breaking Barriers & Uplifting Education – 1-2-1 Doula
Why are black mothers at more risk of dying? – BBC News 2019
Can you REALLY make breast milk if you are adopting a newborn and haven’t had kid previously? How does it work?
The short answer is, yes you can! Many of these parents are experts at defining their own success with a range of options and a range of amounts of milk supply reached.
As we know even a few drops, at any stage of lactation will contain thousands of immune factors. It literally is liquid gold!
Some parents will choose to offer comfort at their breast/chest and not try to induce a supply specifically, where as others will embark upon a regime of simulation and sometimes hormones before the baby is due. Just with anything in life, parents do what works for them and their family.
Sweat Pea Breastfeeding support is run by a US IBCLC, she also co-hosts a fab podcast, Breastfeeding outside the box
Breastfeeding Without Birthing: A Breastfeeding Guide for Mothers through Adoption, Surrogacy, and Other Special Circumstances – Alyssa Schnell
Where’s the Mother?: Stories from a Transgender Dad – Trevor MacDonald . A compelling read.
What to do when baby has tongue tie?
What else about the physiology of a babies mouth can hinder breastfeeding / other issues?
Breastfeeding with a Tongue Tie, is a complex subject and one that often requires specially trained individuals to diagnose and ideally ongoing skilled help to help you both re learn how to latch and attach more effectively.
All of this is best done 1:1, with a skilled helper and this is also where other physical issues (differential diagnosis) can be explored. You can read more general information in the links bellow.
Some general tips
Research and talk to other parents who have been affected too.
Many parents find the flipple or exaggerated latch helpful
Ask for help when you need it.
Tongue-tie in Babies: A Guide for Parents - Sarah Okley (IBCLC) a direct pdf download.
Tongue Tie - La Leche Leauge
Association of Tongue-tie Practitioners to find trained individuals (Link ATP)
Supporting Sucking Skills - For supporters and medically minded parents.
Flipple - Milk Meg (IBCLC)