(Spirals, Sweet Peas & a Sleeping Baby~Emily Rainsford Ryan 2013)
This is National Breastfeeding Week, and together with the Irish Parenting Bloggers group, I am participating in a BlogMarch in keeping with this years theme ‘Every breastfeed makes a difference’
The last breastfeeding BlogMarch, I wrote how breastfeeding resources should be used for women who want to breastfeed, not trying to convince those who don’t want to, to breastfeed. Support is the no.1 factor, I feel, in whether breastfeeding is successful or not. If family and close friends aren’t supportive, it takes huge will and determination to make it work. After that, more support is needed for any problems or worries that crop up along the way; proper support, not someone dismissing your huge desire and instinct to make your breastfeeding successful, by saying “oh, just give the baby a bottle, will you?”
I read something very interesting today: that most women don’t breastfeed/stop soon after starting due to embarrassment and familiarity. Thankfully, I had neither: I remember my mother breastfeeding all my siblings and that was my point of reference. As for embarrassment? Baby was hungry, I had the goods: it was fast, easy, satisfying.
I LOVE breastfeeding. Maybe it is the surge of hormones; maybe it is because I am inherently lazy and love a chance to plonk down, nurse and
dement with squiggles snuggle a baby; or maybe the thoughts of having to prepare bottles, make sure they are clean, sterilized, made correctly just turns me off (I cannot abide the smell of formula either, so that would be a null pointe on that front)
I don’t think the scientific reasons that “Breast is Best” ever entered my head, until years later, when, as an experienced breast feeder of many years and many babies, I was called upon for advice, discussion, help, support. I feel honored when a new mother asks me for advice or help. Breastfeeding has made for a very relaxed, easy, peaceful life for us, and I am always delighted to hopefully help another find that ease and peace.
I attended bi-monthly breastfeeding support groups, with my toddler who looked like a giant beside these newborns and their terrified mothers; terrified mothers who over the course of weeks, became confident mothers, who became the experienced nursing mothers who gave the advice and personal point of view. It was support that was invaluable: often new mothers came with no-one else to turn to, they wanted to breastfeed, but no-one they knew had breastfed: were they doing it “right”? Should they feed more? Less? Should baby sleep so much? wake frequently? have colic?
In practically every town there is a breastfeeding support group; and this support has widened infinitely thanks to the Internet; forums, groups, Facebook groups: there is a forum and group for every “combination” of mother you want to be! I am part of several groups with different focus’, and the support and kindness is incredible. Throw out a fear, worry, question, random statement, and there are people out there ready to virtually rub your back, give good advice, argue the advice given. It has engendered so much discussion, introduced so many ideas and angles on every scenario. It is this support, whether virtual or in person that is the difference in very many cases between a mother continuing to breastfeed or not. The more breastfeeding is normalized in society and in the media, the more mothers will breastfeed confidently without embarrassment or unfamiliarity.
I feel very blessed that my breastfeeding relationships had longevity and were relatively problem-free; I attribute that to breastfeeding being the norm in my head (thanks mammy!!) I know the more we talk about breastfeeding, see it, read it, draw it, experience it, support it; the more it will happen, the more it will just Be.
Its going to be a while getting to that place, but I’m just so glad to have been a link of the chain on that journey.
(Check out the Irish Parenting Bloggers Facebook page for the great giveaway!)
A really lovely article Emily. I love your angle on supporting women who want to feed and allowing others their choice. If the jam was being spread less thinly surely it would have more impact xx
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Oh I love this! When I came to Ireland four years ago I couldn’t believe that there are so many women here who don’t breastfeed because it’s quite normal in Germany (where I’m from). In fact in Germany it’s already going the other way around and some women want to free themselves from being pressured into breastfeeding – which I think isn’t good either. Women should be able to decide but I think here in Ireland it can be difficult to decide to breastfeed if the norm is to bottle feed and you feel awkward in public. That’s why we need lots of women (like you! and me I suppose 😉 ) who support breastfeeding and make it easier for Irish women to decide: Yes, Breast is Best!
Sorry for the ramble and thank you for your lovely article!!! Love, Halina
Halina, thank you so much for your lovely comment, the rambling ones are the best 🙂 hope all is well on Cherry Farm ! Xx