Normalizing breastfeeding: what it means to me.

I didn’t start my breastfeeding journey with a head full of knowledge or a mind set on a particular aim. I dived in on a whim and a prayer. I went to several antenatal classes, but it was more from the angle of a newly pregnant mum many miles away from home trying to get a holistic glimpse on parenthood. I don’t think I thought of how the baby would be fed until I went to those classes. The choice to breastfeed for me started as a trial decision, if it works well if it doesn’t … two months into it and I wanted to quit, but thanks to the support I got from my sister, and Bambis, I carried on.

Breastfeeding Poster V2
Designed by Emma Devine

Through our journey and afterward I have come to learn a lot more about breastfeeding, its place in society and the importance of normalizing breastfeeding. Normalizing breastfeeding is a major public health campaign; the link between to health of a baby and well-being of the future adult makes it a very important topic. This write up will attempt to summarize my understanding of what it means to normalize breastfeeding:

  • To normalize breastfeeding is to welcome the different identities, social, and religious lattices that exist inside the folds of motherhood. Each phase of motherhood has a way of highlighting our abilities and shortcomings, however, it doesn’t change who we are; contemplative people or social butterflies, naturist or non-naturist and so forth. Each mother ought to be supported to breastfeed in the manner that suits her, publicly or privately.
  • To normalize breastfeeding is to acknowledge the effect a mother’s psychological well-being during pregnancy, baby blues and beyond has on breastfeeding. Everybody knows breastfeeding is a physical act; most do not know or acknowledge the emotional demands it places on the mother. The latter makes it twice as hard for a mother who has encountered or is encountering emotional issues to keep up long term breastfeeding. This is very important as we all know that a well-rested/balanced mother leads to a well-rested/balanced baby. (Rees, 2016)
  • To normalize breastfeeding is to eliminate one of the many divides that can exist in motherhood and parenting as a whole: at some point in history, infant formula was introduced as a status symbol, a commodity afforded only by the working class/wealthy mother. This relegated the breastfeeding mother to the place of an uneducated/common/unemployed mother (Nathoo & Ostry, 2009). The tides are slowly turning, but I fear it brings with it an alternate divide; nature mother vs. synthetic mother, confident mother vs. non-confident mother. These labels do more harm than good for the breastfeeding cause. The choice on how a baby is fed should be made with the optimal well-being of baby as the focus point. This in no way implies that moms wellbeing isn’t important (see point two), but if ever there was a relationship that demanded and tugged at the heartstrings of sacrifice motherhood is at the apex of such. This is a lesson that I am as yet learning.
  • Slide1To normalize breastfeeding is to accept that while the use of infant formula might not be an immoral act, the misuse or marketing of it might be considered unethical. This ranges from the aggressive marketing of formula to mothers in countries with poor sanitary conditions and limited access to clean water, to the distribution of formula samples to new mothers as they leave the hospital in developed countries. This has been proven to derail the breastfeeding journey for most mothers. (Bai, 2013) This point is very important to my breastfeeding journey as the first and the only bottle of formula my daughter had was a free sample from the hospital, thankfully she rejected it, I imagine if she hadn’t and I didn’t have the support network I had in place, I would probably have quit breastfeeding on another bad day.
  • To normalize breastfeeding is not to sexualize or to desexualize the breasts or nursing mother. Through the decades organizations standing on the back of a patriarchal society have made a sex symbol out of the woman’s breast; a tool for selling cars, luring the opposite sex and bolstering your feminine nature. On the other hand, several artworks, campaign groups, and activists have tried to desexualize the breast; I fear both sides haven’t done the nursing mother much good. She worries about feeding in public, she worries about their sexual appeal (which is changed more by pregnancy and less by breastfeeding), she worries about her own personal image, and for some, she worries about her modesty (see point 1). But at the end of the day, she just wants to feed her child in peace and sincerely she doesn’t care if they are sexual or not, those things are secondary. The breast is both a sexual and nurturing organ, it was designed to carry out both roles, and they are not mutually exclusive.
  • To normalize breastfeeding is to accept the previous methods of feeding in the past and align with the present research. This is especially important for people in the medical field, it is true that at some point in history formula was branded the perfect solution for feeding an infant (several reasons have being proffered as to how formula came to be so dominant: some attribute it to an increase in mothers joining the workforce making it necessary for a child-minder to have a ready supply of food, it has also being linked to the industrialization of milk production while others believe it was probably due to a need to have children grow up faster after the war, as breast milk was thought to be insufficient for quick growth), however present research refutes that claim. It is important that medical professionals embrace breastfeeding in its entity, as this will enable them to make sound decisions on how best to support a mother without feeling cajoled to say keep trying even when they can see whatever form of feeding isn’t helping mother or baby. The pressure shouldn’t be to promote either formula or breastfeeding, the demand should be to handle each case individually with the best outcome for both mother and baby in view, regardless of how they were fed or how they fed their own children.normalizing breastfeeding 2016
  • To normalize breastfeeding is to acknowledge the true history of breastfeeding and infant substitutes: finally, we must acknowledge that infant substitutes have always existed in the past, however, the ratio of children who needed it as against those who were breastfed either by their mothers or a wet nurse were few. Babies were fed using different instruments and substitutes including terracotta pots, donkey’s milk, pap, and soaked bread (Dailey, 2014). Formula probably became popular as it was the one substitute which could be transported around the world, had more sterilized equipment, and thus had a lower probability of causing food poisoning when compared to others.

       To normalize breastfeeding is to start baby on the best diet known to man.


Sorry for the mix-up, scheduled the post wrongly and had to repost it again. Breastfeeding week starts on the 18th of this month, I hope we all join in to celebrate it, if you’re new here (i.e. to livehomeandaway) I hope you find this part of my life as interesting as the rest.

Love and light.

Motherhood creed.

To birth and to hold,

To nurture and to succour,

In sickness and in health.

Through tantrums, glitter storms and super hero rescues,

may we bond beyond the placenta.

Motherhood creed.

Breastfeeding Poster V2
Designed by Emma Devine and I

Breastfeeding … helping you uphold the creed.

Share your thoughts on motherhood, parenting, and breastfeeding.

I will be putting up posts (not everyday though) to celebrate breastfeeding week between the 18th – 27th of June. Thanks to Liverpool BAMBIS, for supporting me through my breastfeeding journey and letting me volunteer.

 

My first diet

Mum presented me to the doctors today without seeking my permission, according to her it was high time I got my first personal medical evaluation.

Thankfully the doctors said I was healthy, but kept emphasizing I maintain a healthy diet if I wanted to stay that way. What did he mean by a healthy diet, was it the same as mum’s own? Would I also have to exercise like mum? This was not fair, I’m too young to get into all that. Mum looked even more horrified than I, sensing the looming fear the doctor rushed on to ease our worries.

“There’s no cause for alarm, this is a healthy diet plan better than any other.It’s quite simple to follow and relatively a lot cheaper than other alternatives.”

Phew, Mum relaxed at least her wardrobe allowance wasn’t going to get short changed.

I heard the words ‘simple and better’ and relaxed.

“However, I must warn that like all diets the body will take awhile to adapt and it will fluctuate with each growing phase. But as with any diet, the impact will be more rewarding in the long run if done consistently.”

“Just one question doc, I have seen children who haven’t been on this diet flourish, are you sure this is absolutely necessary.”

“That is true, however, individuals differ in their reactions to everything, one thing that stands true for this diet is the lack of side effects and an abundance of both health and economic benefits.”

“I hope people don’t hassle us, I mean it’s not like she’s overweight.” mom said

The doctor smiled “She’s definitely not overweight, the diet will also reduce her chances of being overweight in the future. And if people laugh at you, shrug it off, remember it’s never too early to start eating healthy.”

first diet

The diary of a breastfed baby and mom.

This post was not written to shame or castigate anyone, it’s aim to encourage and advocate for more women to breastfeed. 

Learning a new skill; my breast feeding journey

The most natural thing in the world: that’s what I used to think about breastfeeding before I had a go at it myself. “Just be positive and it will be an easy ride,” I told myself, just as I did with pregnancy and childbirth. And whereas with those two this attitude worked a treat, breastfeeding was a whole different matter.animated-breastfeeding-image-0018

Do you ride a bike, play a musical instrument or swim? All these skills seem perfectly easy once you’ve mastered them, but they all take a certain amount of time and effort to learn; having a teacher or instructor at the beginning helps someone to show you the ropes. Breastfeeding is also a skill, and it makes a massive difference if you have someone who can show you what to do, how to hold and position your baby, what signs of a good attachment to look for and how to solve any problems you might have.

animated-cycling-image-0073A lot of women put a great deal of trust in their GP, pediatrician, health visitor or midwife. This is as it should be. However, when it comes to breastfeeding, their knowledge can be very superficial. Most of them aren’t trained to aptly assist the breastfeeding mum and infant, thus making it necessary for you to get a certified second opinion when faced with challenges. There are certain websites with varied resources that I consider the “Breastfeeders’ Bible” and it might be worth familiarizing yourself with them. They include kellymom.com and Dr Jack Newman’s on http://www.breastfeedinginc.ca. I know of women who have actually taken printouts from these sites to their GP, ensuring they got the right treatment. There is A LOT of information on Kellymom and Dr Newman’s page; don’t worry; most likely you won’t need to know all, or even half of it. But you can usually find the answer or solution to your problem there. Local support groups and forums are also an invaluable source of first hand experience.

So, riding a bike? Playing an instrument? Well, that’s all good, but there is certainly more to consider where breastfeeding is concerned. After all, there is a second (and possibly a third or fourth?) person involved in the process, not just an inanimate object like in the case of cycling or playing the piano. Also, breastfeeding comes at a very special moment in your life, when your body and your mind are prone to be in a delicate state, and you’re bound to feel vulnerable. This all adds up to making breastfeeding a dicey skill to master, this is true especially with your first child, but many women still feel apprehensive even if they already have kids.

breastfeeding journey 1If you have a relatively uncomplicated birth, it’s best to give breastfeeding a go right after. This is what I did, having watched videos of babies instinctively climbing to their mothers’ chests (my husband still reminisces on those videos shown at antenatal classes!). Even if you have a Cesarean section, you can usually have some skin-to-skin contact with the baby straight after, an attempt at the first feed. And guess what: you don’t have to wait for an invitation from the health professionals looking after you to do it, you can demand it. Don’t be afraid; follow your instincts, sometimes mum just knows best, even if it’s your first time.

Sometimes your baby just wants to sleep after a long, tiring labor; sometimes pain relief might be involved and baby is sleepy – don’t worry, it will happen for you two, just give baby time keeping them close to your skin as the chances of the first feed is likely to happen under such conditions. This new person is very likely to know what’s good for them and the two (three etc.) of you might be lucky enough to have a smooth start of breastfeeding, and carry on, without ever looking back.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case for us (but perhaps this was a character-building exercise? Who knows!). My son had a severe tongue tie, which was picked up at the hospital right after he was born, but snipping right away sadly isn’t normal practice. After a nice and easy start, baby latched on but then failed to let go of my nipple for hours, things progressively worsened with my nipples suffering really badly and the baby getting full of wind. When a referral letter from a children’s hospital arrived nine days later, with a consultation (and possible snip of the tongue tie) planned for six weeks away (and each of those weeks seemed to be an eternity), I was in such a state that we decided we couldn’t wait any longer and booked a private appointment for the next day. It cost an arm and a leg, and it changed our breastfeeding story from a potential failure to a slightly less painful journey. Would I pay this much and drive almost 60 miles each way again to have this snip? I’m not sure. Was it the best decision in that particular situation? Yes, I believe so.

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Knowing what I know now, I would’ve insisted on being referred to other clinics in the area, and I would’ve probably gone for a free (NHS) cancellation appointment five days later, which my husband managed to secure. But I only found out about all those options after the tongue tie was snipped, and it wasn’t really an issue anymore. Just in case you’re wondering how babs took the snip – well, he cried for the whole of 20 seconds it took for me to stick a nipple in his mouth, and he never looked back. The 120 mile-round drive and the fact that he had to be hungry before the appointment were slightly more traumatic.

Did we breastfeed happily ever after? Well, not straight away. Having been through a near-BFJ 2complete nipple destruction mission, my breasts decided to take revenge. And so, began a long journey of recurrent blocked ducts and bouts of mastitis, which lasted for the next three months. Mastitis, that word has the potential to truly terrify breastfeeding mums… as much as it’s not pleasant, it can be treated. My first bout took place on my husband’s 40th Birthday, and it wiped me out completely; I wasn’t able to get out of bed, give him his Birthday gift or even write out his card. I had a high temperature, hot and cold sweat. After a telephone consultation, my GP prescribed antibiotics that were safe while breastfeeding, my husband picked them up and a few hours later I felt much better.

A similar situation happened a few weeks later (after I gorged on buttery oat biscuits, facepalm!) and after that second lot of antibiotics, mastitis and blocked ducts left me for good (I hoped!). I found not-knowing when or if it would ever get better the most worrying aspect of the process, it really brought me down. Looking back it seems like an insignificant period of time, but at that time, it seemed like my whole life was collapsing under my feet and the pain would never go away. It was hard, it was tearful and I didn’t need the pain or anguish on top of the normal new-mum anxiety and hormonal rides. Now, almost a year after having my son, I don’t regret going through it. Would I  endure it again? Hell yeah!

BFJ3I was fortunate as in my case baby was putting on weight fabulously; he didn’t seem to suffer at all. This saved me a lot of worry. Some mum’s resort to giving formula, is formula the root of all evil? Errrm… no. Formula has its place in the world; there are situations where it is the only viable option to sustain a child’s life. I know there are also mums who have all the information on breastfeeding, but simply don’t want to breastfeed, and that is absolutely fine, and nobody’s business but their own. However, giving formula to a child because they are fussy or because you’ve mastitis isn’t necessarily the best course of action. It interferes with your milk production especially in the early days; research also shows it has an impact on the baby’s gut. (The virgin gut concept might be worth a Google search).

The rate of women initiating breastfeeding right after birth speaks for itself: a vast majority of women want to breastfeed. They believe it’s best for their babies; they want to feel the mother to child bond at the breast. And some, like me, don’t want to spend a fortune on formula, bottles and sterilisers, if they don’t have to. This article is for that mum who starts out but comes face-to-face with hurdles that seem insurmountable in the moment, don’t fret it does and definitely gets better. Your experience isn’t new, as with every new skill, support, proper information and a persevering attitude pays off in the long run. I’m almost 12 months in, and it is one of the best aspects of motherhood for me.


Ola&BenWritten by Ola Jones.

The breastfeeding mother of a lovely smiley baby called Benjamin. Ola, her husband and Benjamin make their home in Liverpool UK. Ola and Benjamin are a testament to the benefits of persevering through challenging and some what complicated breastfeeding journeys. 

Ola acknowledges the tremendous impact the support and guidance received from BAMBIS (Babies and Mums Breastfeeding Information and Support) had on her journey and recommends that such services should be duplicated across the country.

Thanks Ola for sharing your beautiful story.

Disclaimer: this is a personal story  and not a medical recommendation. Please consult your doctor and lactation specialist.

Object of debate

The object of great debate: Sexual function versus biological function.

The object of great debate: Nudity versus modesty.

The above topics have inherent abilities to ignite a free for all endless fight, to turn the genders against each other in a minute, throw in a common factor –  the breasts and the debate grows more ambiguous to a point were no one remembers what kicked off the fight. 

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Growing breasts are a significant sign of girls emerging sexuality and biological changes, they play the major role of giving or enhancing sexual pleasures up until the bearer (the girl in question) gives birth.

At the birth of a baby the breasts become biologically equipped to nurture a baby whether the mother chooses to breastfeed is a different debate. The breast still retains its sexual function, but it’s biologically functions are enhanced. 

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Now on nudity and modesty I’ll play it safe by giving a summary: the choice is down to personal preference. There are breastfeeding mothers who embrace nudity and there are breastfeeding mothers who embrace modesty.

To argue a woman hides her breast under a scarf or any piece of clothing while feeding a child but expose them when embracing her body/sexuality is to argue that one should cover their mouths with a napkin through a meal but leave them in plain sight while speaking.

An object takes on the colors and shapes embedded in your mind, what you look at is a small portion of what you actually see.

To argue everyone should embrace the nude picture of a breastfeeding mother is to argue that everyone should embrace masochism in sex. One can happen independent of the other, be careful not to hide one message under another.breastfeeding woman

You can’t please all the people all the time, but you can reduce the number of people confused by your message by making it clear and precise.

Pick the course you want to advocate either focus on breastfeeding or nudity, merging both campaigns weakens your appeal, distracting from your message.

Daily prompt – Object.

Coloured by thoughts.

“How can you say that?”

“Come on! Honestly don’t you find it a little offensive?”

“No I don’t. You need to get your mind out of the gutter,” she replies laughing at her friend.

Sticking her tongue out at Jay, Zee replies “My mind isn’t in the gutter, I just find the whole public display a bit over the top and offensive. I would genuinely be embarrassed for her if she was related to me, “

“I find it a bit ridiculous though Zee that this picture offends you, but pictures of women who look in need of a weight watchers program for their ample bosoms wearing nothing more than a nipple shield and V-guard doesn’t bother you,”

“That is fashion. It might offend me, but it’s up to personal choice..”

“And this is not? Zee if this was a picture from a third world country would you still find it offensive?”

“That’s different, in those scenarios economic issues might warrant this occurring,”

“So, you won’t be offended by what’s on display then would you?”

“Not necessarily but … “

“No, that’s all the answer I need. Your personal bias is influencing what you see when you look at the picture. It’s the memories of what Harry does to yours in the sac that makes you …..,”

“Gosh you’re grouse Jay. Cut it out, you know that’s not why,”

“It is too! That’s why pictures of naked bodies don’t seem offensive ‘cos nothing is going on, but this evokes memories of ….”

The pillow landed squarely on her head at that precise moment.

Laughing Jay continued “look Zee I cringe when I see some of them as well not because its offensive ‘cos it’s not. At least in this scenario a legitimate purpose is being fulfilled, what reason do beach exhibitionist have for vividly tainting our sights and thoughts up close and personal,”

                               Source: http://matadornetwork.com/


This post was inspired by the literary lion’s challenge “the eye”, and a previous post random thoughts.

Breastfeeding awareness week …. Day 5

Slide1

Breast and baby; nature united,

They know not prejudice, pride or racism,

A loving bond daily forged .

Slide3

Breast and baby; nature united,

Health insured, Hunger satisfied, Harmony guaranteed daily,

Mama loving, Baby friendly treasure.

Written by Chioma I. N


Breast milk all the way.

Take pride in breastfeeding its the one thing certified around the world and through history to give your baby the best start; the one choice in life your child definitely won’t argue over with you, to be honest they make you go on even when you want to quit. Chioma I.N

Breastfeeding awareness week …. Day 4

Take pride in breastfeeding its the one thing certified around the world and through history to give your baby the best start; the one choice in life your child definitely won’t argue over with you, to be honest they make you go on even when you want to quit. Chioma I.N


Top tips on breastfeeding:

1. Watch your baby not the clock.

2. Relax get as comfortable as possible before you start feeding. Try to feed baby before they become upset (this is applicable to those feeding with a bottle too).

3. Unlatch and try again if it feels uncomfortable. A proper latch minimises the chances of a sore nipple or poor feeding cycles.

4. Don’t give up on a bad or good day, stop when you want. The days might be long but the year will be short. Enjoy each cuddle.

5. Your baby, your body ultimately your choice. Listen and investigate every advice but never feel pressured to stop without ensuring its the best choice for baby.

6. Trust your ability to nurture baby, trust baby’s’ ability to let you know what they need.

7. Find a reliable support group, be open to advice and help even from an unexpected source.

8. Connect back with your hobbies and fun activities to avoid becoming totally baby brained.


Happy breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding awareness week …. Day 3

“When we trust the makers of baby formula more than we do our own ability to nourish our babies, we lose a chance to claim an aspect of our power as women. Thinking that baby formula is as good as breast milk is believing that thirty years of technology is superior to three million years of nature’s evolution. Countless women have regained trust in their bodies through nursing their children, even if they weren’t sure at first that they could do it. It is an act of female power, and I think of it as feminism in its purest form.”
Christine Northrup


“Increase in breastfeeding could save NHS £40m a year,” The Independent reports after a recent economic modelling study projected a reduction in childhood diseases and breast cancer rates would lead to considerable savings for the health service. (NHS, 2014)

In order to create more awareness for breastfeeding I have made a list support networks in the UK which isn’t all encompassing but I hope it points anyone who comes across it in the right direction. Do click on the link for the list. Breastfeeding support

Please feel free to add a suggestion through the comment box.

Some recommended on-line informative resource includes:

www.breastfeedinginc.ca  (Dr. Jack Newman contributes to this site.)

http://kellymom.com

www.babycentre.co.uk

There are organisations that promote/protect breastfeeding by monitoring the marketing activities of the baby feeding industry ensuring it is not misleading the public. Baby milk action is one of such organisation to find out more about them visit their website www.babymilkaction.org. Globally breastfeeding is promoted by WHO (World health organisation), IBFAN (International baby food action network), UNICEF( United nations children’s fund), WABA (World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action) to name a few.

There are also numerous on-line forums which offer support please carefully choose one, preferably one recommended by friends or a professional to avoid exposure to the wrong information and people.


“They convinced our mothers that if a food item came in a bottle — or a can or a box or a cellophane bag — then it was somehow better for you than when it came to you free of charge via Mother Nature….An entire generation of us were introduced in our very first week to the concept that phony was better than real, that something manufactured was better than something that was right there in the room. (Later in life, this explained the popularity of the fast food breakfast burrito, neocons, Kardashians, and why we think reading this book on a tiny screen with only three minutes of battery life left is enjoyable.”
Michael Moore