It’s World Breastfeeding Week and whilst this year the focus is supporting breastfeeding for a healthier planet…. here we are amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. So for many, this time without face-to-face support has been an extremely difficult one. New mothers navigating a world of breastfeeding alone can be terribly isolating, it is a world which requires friends, peer support, family and in some cases specialists to establish a feeding routine.
Before I became a mother I had ZERO idea about what breastfeeding would entail (naturally), and very little did I realise how many would contribute to what might be perceived as a ‘mother and baby only’ type journey. At 19 months postpartum, our breastfeeding routine is definitely well established. But even as I feel we are nearing the end of the road it’s interesting just how much I have missed our weekly trip to the community centre on a Monday morning for a cuppa and a chat at the Breastfeeding Support Group in our village. There you would find…tired mums, teething babies, half drunk cups of tea, and the kindest mentors.. each other. The listening ears who couldn’t appreciate more what an adjustment being a parent can be at times it is a great comfort to just be understood.
While many face-to-face groups or support cannot take place right now, there is lots and lots of support online no matter where you are in your journey there is a huge community online who want mothers to feel empowered by their breastfeeding journeys. Feeling encouragement from others can be a reason we are seeing babies and toddlers feeding for longer. I wouldn’t bat an eyelid at the sight of a 2-year old being breastfed but I appreciate that is my world right now. I know for example, my mothers’ generation it was much less common for a baby over 6 months to still be breastfed. So things are moving in the right direction at least towards the World Health Organisation’s recommendations for
- exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months
- To continue breastfeeding until 2 years old
Alongside many other reasons for breastfeeding, it reduces a mothers cancer risk. Both ovarian and breast cancer risk decreases the longer a mother breastfeeds for. And that’s without listing the benefits for baby! – that’s pretty astounding, and definitely something to be really proud of our body’s for.
For breastfeeding to be successful, we need mothers to receive adequate support, whether from other mothers, and for other family members to be involved in that supportive role too. Also, Scotland needs to be outwardly ‘breastfeeding friendly’ for mothers to feel accepted and supported. As much as I miss the group in the tiny community room, it is not enough ESPECIALLY not during a pandemic. We need society to respect and support mothers as the essential caregivers to the future generations that they are.
Finally, I wanted to share some of the online resources I have personally found useful for breastfeeding advice:
La Leche GB covers a huge range of feeding difficulties and advice http://www.laleche.org.uk/get-support/
The national breastfeeding helpline number is 0300 100 0212 www.nationalbreastfeedinghelpline.org.uk
No Milk Like Mamas https://www.nomilklikemamas.co.uk/ follow the instagram page to feel like a breastfeeding bad-ass! @NoMilkLikeMamas
To those of you who are feeling alone, Well done Mama’s (this isn’t said nearly as much as it should), you’ve got this.
Lauryn Monahan (fellow mama), Social media and external communication for SCPN
Images: SCPN own and Unsplash