If you do not want to see, just look away! My breastfeeding experience
It is very interesting to know that nearly a year ago, in September 2015 precisely, the world’s leaders committed to 17 goals with the purpose of ending poverty , protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity for all, all written in a document called “Sustainable Development Goals”.
With this in mind, is even more interesting to learn that the current World Breastfeeding Week 2016 has, as the core of its objectives, to raise awareness and help us to think the value of wellbeing from the start of life, as well as caring for the world and respecting each other. In addition, UNICEF has stated that breastfeeding is not only important to a child’s development but to the progression of an entire community.
All the above is a perfect combination of words that if applied will solve enormous problems, however, there is still so much taboo and sadly some of them stimulated by public figures who condemn it as offensive to others.
I was lucky because I grew up in a society where breastfeeding was still very much the norm and where mums only fed their babies formula as a pure necessity, not a choice. I knew I was going to breastfeed my daughter, not only because I grew understanding the natural simplicity of the process, but also because I had spent 6 full years training as a Vet, and as far as sciences was regarded it was never expected from me to provide a queen cat with the choice to feed their kittens with formula, if she was able to nurse them, especially after I had studied and understood, from many angles, the benefits of it on mums and offspring alike.
16 years ago, when I naively thought breastfeeding was as simple as the baby was hungry, you put the baby on your breast and baby latched and sucked all nutrients away, there were two things that stroke me more than the fact that my inverted nipples where a huge barrier for my daughter to latch comfortable.
The first thing that took me aback while in the hospital, was to hear the nurses asking me, nearly in disbelief, if I was going to feed her and one nurse shouting to another, in the middle of a quiet night that she was going to have a long shift as she had two mums breastfeeding (out of 12!!) . Their tone for some of the hospital staff was as close as “are you mad? why you bother when the formula is a more straight forward approach?”.
The other thing that stroke me was that the well-intentioned relations of a young girl who was suffering from mild post-natal depression, right in front me got excited every time they heard my little one was crying for a feed, I even overheard them saying I was given my baby booby OMG! and that I was going to undress, I really felt they thought there were scenes from an XXX movie behind curtains.
The reality on these days was that support was nearly nil, my daughter could not find the nipple (neither could I) so she chew me all over little by little. When I mentioned about plastic nipples, the ward’s sister came in to tell me they were completely banned in her ward, no reasons given. However when the milk came down and I was in agony due to pain, the sister sent a young student that did not have a remote ideas what she was doing, to express my breast with the end result of total maceration of both of them and a bout of mastitis that made me feel I was about to die. It did take me a while to lose the idea that this young lady had been sent to me to give me a lesson.
Sheer determination made me look for support and it was then when I came across with a marvellous group of women that belong to a local branch of the NCT with extra support from the La League Leche. With their support I was able to reinitiate my milk production, that was completely gone by then, my little one never latched again but she was fed proudly with mum’s milk during her first 6 months of age.
I thought for a long time in suing the hospital and my local section of the NHS for receiving such as little support and for making me feel they have denied my right to choose to breastfeed, my health visitor arranged a home visit with the nurse in charge of breastfeeding promotion in my local hospital, I would like to think that my tears and sadness have an impact on this lady to understand that for some mums breastfeeding was really important.
Many years after my own experience I can see a lot of progress on our breastfeeding approach, especially as the number of mums that want to do it increases, so does the support at all levels of the process. Still some people choose not accept breastfeeding (especially in public places), hopefully, they just need to learn no to watch and with that attitude they will be endorsing one of the points of this world breastfeeding week initiative, respect each other.
My suggestions for successful breastfeeding
These are my personal suggestions for a successful worldwide breastfeeding week (and any further weeks of the year):
- If breastfeeding bothers you, just do not look!
- If you do not like seeing babies fed in public places, do not attend any public place.
- If you want to do it but not sure how to do it, look for support and get as much information as possible.
My wish for this World’s Breastfeeding Week 2016 is just a simple one, that nobody, and I repeat NOBODY is so poorly supported and treated, the way I was, if breastfeeding their baby is their choice!
Ecopipo is fully supporting the National Breastfeeding Celebration Week 2016 visit UNICEF’s website to know more about this and how to support. Share your breastfeeding support stories on social media #celebratebreastfeeding