Reasons Changes in Baby Movements Matter

Tommy launched its #MovementsMatter campaign recently, for purposes I especially relate to and because BABY MOVEMENTS MATTER:

  • to challenge dangerous myths about baby movement in pregnancy
  • to increase awareness of how vital it is to monitor baby movements
  • to encourage expectant mums to trust their instincts about their baby’s movements
  • to empower pregnant women and give them the confidence to get help when they’re concerned
  • to give pregnant women clear information about what to do if their baby’s movements feel unusual
  • to let pregnant women know what to expect when they reach out for help with their baby’s movements
  • to inform pregnant women that they are not wasting people’s time when they reach out for help about their baby’s movements

Tommy's baby movements matter campaign web page

Just under 2 weeks before this campaign started, I was worried about my baby’s movement. My baby didn’t seem to be moving as much as before, and around the time of the day that I was used to. Yet I did nothing but worry for about 2 to 3 days.

Why?

 bump-touch-movementsmatter

What held me back from acting promptly?

I questioned the validity of my instincts and didn’t want to waste anyone’s time.

I didn’t want to disturb my toddler’s routine again; he has been to the hospital with me so many times over these past months. I felt bad expecting him to ‘behave’ and not run around laughing loudly, on the long corridors that called out for his exploration. After all, hospitals are serious spaces for the most part; not a toddler’s playground.

I didn’t want my husband putting everything aside again just to take me to an appointment I wasn’t sure I needed; increasing our petrol cost (silly, I know).

I didn’t want to waste the midwives’ time and the NHS’ money to massage away my worries when all was probably well.

Lastly, I didn’t want to waste my time waddling around when I didn’t need to, dealing with the discomfort of getting in and out of the car, feeling like a burden to those caring for me, especially when I could be working through another chore on my unending to-do list.

bump-love-movementsmatter

Baby movements myths that hold us back

According to Tommy’s research, 52% of women worry about getting help with reduced fetal movements because they are afraid of “wasting midwife’s time” and “being a nuisance” – I’m one of these.

Why do we worry about wasting people’s time when our babies need our help to get help?

Tommy’s research found that some of us incorrectly think that:

  1. A certain amount of kicks is fine
  2. We can use a home doppler for reassurance
  3. We can’t be checked at the weekend or outside 9am – 5pm
  4. Baby movements slow down in the 3rd trimester due to lack of space
  5. We can bring up our concern at our next midwife or doctor’s appointment

Honesty time: have you delayed getting support for any of these reasons? #5 definitely resonates with me.

bum-and-dad-movementsmatter

Why do baby movements matter? 

Perhaps, we need more understanding of the importance of our decision to get help with this.

Seeking help with unusual changes in baby movements could potentially change the life chance for some babies.

Baby movements and stillbirth

I mean, consider the fact that …

about 55% of mums who’ve had a stillbirth noticed a reduction or pause in their baby’s movements beforehand, but unfortunately didn’t report it. That’s staggering and sobering.

55%!

bump-and-scan-movementsmatter

To think that some babies might be alive today if the negative change in their movement had been checked out is heartbreaking; I can’t even imagine how horrific it must be for mums that have gone through this.

1 in every 220 babies born in the UK is stillborn. In 2015, the UK ranked 24 out of 49 high-income countries for stillbirth rates.

It’s important to note that this isn’t scaremongering … absolutely not. It’s being aware of meaningful statistics, to help us understand how much baby movements matter.

I … all pregnant women … must remember that babes in bumps communicate their well-being to us through their movements. Their movements are not for show, or just to make us feel good. Hence, unusual increases or/and decreases in their movements matter … like, really … really matters!

[via GIPHY] Your baby’s movement is unique to you and your baby

Baby movements is an indicator of baby wellness.

So, reduced baby movements could potential be the first sign that a baby is unhappy and in distress. Think about it: when we’re not well, we tend to move less, don’t we? Similarly, babies are likely to save their energy and move less when they’re not doing as well as they should be doing; in and out of the womb.

So, to the 73% of us who are likely to delay getting help and instead try hearsay to make our babies move like we’re used to … STOP and GET HELP.

It is heartbreaking to think that babies’ lives may be lost because we don’t get how important paying attention to their movements is … or are scared of wasting the time of those who actually want to help us.

Get this: a similar campaign in Norway reduced stillbirth by a third; I really hope it does the same for us in England. This is one case where it’s better for us to be over than under cautious. I mean, we’re talking about the very survival … the precious lives … of our most fragile and vulnerable group … our babies … our long expected bundles of joy.

bump-feel-movementsmatter

So, let’s heed Tommy’s #MovementsMatter campaign with NHS England and Kicks Count:

  • Be informed – find out more
  • Be observant – pay attention to your baby’s movement
  • Be prepared – save relevant contact numbers on your mobile
  • ACT – yes, get your phone and make the call for help whenever needed

DON’T HESITATE TO GET HELP, TO HELP YOUR BABY. 


What do you think?

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Important Reasons to Celebrate Black Breastfeeding Week

August is filled with breastfeeding awareness events around the world; starting with World Breastfeeding Week,  and ending with National Black Breastfeeding Week (part of the US National Breastfeeding Month).

Black Breastfeeding Week?

Yeah … I tell you ….  there are many important reasons to celebrate Black Breastfeeding Week.

I came across it last year during World Breastfeeding Week. My immediate unspoken reaction was, ‘Noooooo’, followed by ‘why’. I didn’t need anyone to tell me how some folks will react to it … do we really need another separate thing for black people?

Even then, I maintained an open mind and I decided to find out more.

Important Reasons to Celebrate Black Breastfeeding Week | @aNoviceMum | Adventures of a Novice Mum

The Top Five Reasons We Need a Black Breastfeeding Week‘ helped me to understand the rationale behind it. It wasn’t about having another black this or that; far from it.

National Black Breastfeeding Week in the US, is about empowering an undermined group of mothers, and saving more innocent and vulnerable lives.

It’s not about making people uncomfortable, but about highlighting real issues, affecting real people.

It is about justice, equality, and equity for all mothers and their babes regardless of their skin colour, ethnic group, or cultural history.

It is about addressing the breastfeeding gaps that African-American mothers face compared to other mums, in the nurturing of their children from birth, and the long-term outcomes of these.

It is about highlighting the poor social, medical, and cultural breastfeeding support that black mothers face in modern America, and has faced for decades.

It is about reducing black infant mortality rate and countering the negative history of breastfeeding in some of America’s black communities.

It is about challenging the deep rooted, and negative impact of Formula advertising on the brutalised psyche of a group, thanks to a complex and damaging breastfeeding history.

It is about addressing the inadequate positive representation of black people in modern breastfeeding images.

It is about reshaping the generational impact of a traumatic breastfeeding history, and helping a battered community to more effectively engage with the art  and science of mothering through breastfeeding.

It is about women standing up for each other, and communities moving themselves forward.

It is about informing and supporting African-American mums to make informed choices about giving their children the best start in life.

It is about all these and more.

Phew … relief … I can breathe easy, and not worry about comments about why Black Breastfeeding Week is unnecessary. There are valid reasons for it, and whilst it would be great to live in a world where such a Week wasn’t needed, unfortunately, we don’t.

You see, as someone who is labelled black in a predominantly non-black space, you feel this intangible pressure to justify why black this or that is needed; because guaranteed you’ll be questioned directly or indirectly. It’s like … you need to justify why you’re helping yourself to access a future that is readily available to others; and assisting yourself to attain the positive outcomes that are meant for everyone.

Sorry, I digress a bit; back to the point of this post.

Breastfeeding is one biological norm that really does help to give the vast majority of children an equitable start in life. This is one of the things I really appreciate about breastfeeding. In itself, it’s accessibility is not dependent on skin colour, ethnicity, social status, financial means, education level, or any of the key things that have divided humanity over the millennia.

So, I definitely support the effort to make breastfeeding work for more mothers.

The US National Black Breastfeeding Week is in its 4th year, and this year’s theme is “Lift Every Baby… Oh, What a Joy”. What an upbeat theme. According to The Black Breastfeeding Week’s website, the theme is about”spotlighting the sweet joy of family bonds and perseverance”.

I’m sure that many mums, breastfeeding or not, will identify with this theme. It’s definitely one that very much applies of my breastfeeding journey of over 2.5 years.

I’m not African-American, but I’m human … and a woman. The aims of Black Breastfeeding Week resonate with me, and I’m especially thinking and talking about it this week.

In my next Black Breastfeeding Week post; I’ll be discussing a very important remote cause of some of the reasons for this Week.


What came to your mind when you first heard about this Week, and what do you think about it now?


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Breastfeeding: a key to nutrition, food security, and poverty reduction

World Breastfeeding Week this year focuses on breastfeeding as a key to sustainable development; an important tool towards the achievement of the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

One of the ways that breastfeeding contributes to the SDGs is through the fact that it addresses a range of issues relating to poverty; and thus significantly contributes towards a more equitable world and fairer society.

My word, breastmilk is simply put … amazing. According to #10 of The Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding and many other bodies worldwide, “breastfeeding is an unequalled way of providing ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants.”

“Breast milk has the perfect combination of proteins, fats, vitamins, and carbohydrates.  There is nothing better for the health of your baby.  Leukocytes are living cells that are only found in breast milk.  They help fight infection.  It is the antibodies, living cells, enzymes, and hormones that make breast milk ideal. These cannot be added to formula.”

BF key to nutrition 3

In terms of biology, cost, environmental sustainability, quality nutrition composition and needs, production cost and efficiency, and so much more, breastfeeding really does save the day for so many around the world; in a way nothing else can. It is designed for both the best and the roughest … toughest conditions a mother and child could find themselves in, in majority of instances worldwide.

I mean … look at poverty for example – the reality of most people in the world – in the face of or because of natural or man-made disasters … breastfeeding is the normal, safest, and best way to feed infants. This is because it is pretty much self-sustaining for most mums, especially with the right support. It doesn’t rely on the ability to read instructions, and it doesn’t need to be purchased in most cases. For the majority, it also doesn’t need any man-made equipment that must be cleaned in certain ways.

Being the biological norm, and indeed produced from the blood, breastmilk is not formed from the mother’s diet, though there are few instances when some items need to be restricted or eliminated. This is not to say that mum’s diet doesn’t matter; it of course matters for the mother and her family, breastfeeding or not.

Breastmilk is specially made, at the right temperature, and with the right amount of nutrients that babies need at different points during the day. Its ability to satisfy the nutritional needs (and more) of children is time-tested and proven through the ages. In the absence of certain infectious diseases like HIV, where there is a small risk of transmission from mother to child, the risk of contamination is minimal to none. Even then, there

Its production is pretty much free and it has zero environmental cost, except if breastfeeding aids like breast pumps, which are at their core not essential of most breastfeeding journeys, are used.

So, the more optimal breastfeeding is – initiated within the first hour of birth, exclusively done for the first 6 months, and done in addition to solid food for 2 years and beyond – the more optimum its outcomes are.

All these of course is great for poor people, who probably can’t afford a balanced diet, don’t have access to regular clean water and electricity, and might not live in hygienic surroundings. Breastfeeding in itself, isn’t affected by these. At least for 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding, the cost of an extra mouth to feed is not an additional worry, and breastfeeding’s nutritional value persists for as long as it happens.

In breastfeeding, the poor have access to excellent nutrition and food security for their infant from birth, and without added expense.

It’s also great for those who are not poor, even if they live in a country with stable electricity and good water supply, as well as specific child based governmental financial support. Breastfeeding’s nutritional value and its outcomes still applies, its safety remains unparalleled, and its monetary cost is competitive – none to however much you want to spend on breastfeeding related products.

What does this theme mean to me?

Well, it reflects my experience, albeit within the context of living in a high-income country.

Unfortunately, our breastfeeding start wasn’t the best, thanks to insufficient information and lack of enough helpful support from the medical professionals that worked with us. Even then, we breastfed within the first hour of (a difficult) birth

I watched my son grow on my milk, despite all the weight gain dramas we had, as I worked my socks off to overcome the top up trap – first with formula, then breastmilk (more on these in future posts) – we fell into. I tell you, words can’t capture how much our breastfeeding journey did for my mothering and person.

With breastfeeding, my baby’s hunger was satisfied whenever we were out and about, though my confidence about feeding in public took a while to grow. When he started solids, breastfeeding saved my days, whenever I forgot his food at home or didn’t manage to get food ready on time. And lastly, breastfeeding saved us lots of money, and significantly reduced our increased expense due to the expansion of our family.

Breastfeeding, no doubt is one of the keys to nutrition, food security and poverty reduction.


What do you think?


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Headlines I don’t want to see during World Breastfeeding Week

World Breastfeeding Week is about breastfeeding; it’s promotion, protection, and support – their importance cannot be overstated when you look at breastfeeding rates around the world, and the costs of not breastfeeding. Breastfeeding impacts families at one of their most vulnerable point, and definitely affects the well-being of the most fragile of us, and those involved in their care.

Promoting, protecting, and supporting breastfeeding means that breastfeeding and its ‘unique selling points’ need to be especially highlighted. I mean, this is what you do when you promote something that you believe deserves to be protected and supported, right?

Also, for something to not only be promoted, but also protected and supported, means that there is a problem. It implies that something about the issue is under threat, and the issue is of such importance that all that is possible must be done to secure its position.

World Breastfeeding Week, a Week about breastfeeding awareness, doesn't seem to be appropriate for some headlines, for a number of reasons. | @aNoviceMum

In the case of breastfeeding, there is no doubt it is the biological norm. Pregnant women bear the marks of stretching boobs in preparation for breastfeeding post-birth, some even leak or harvest some of the nutrient rich colostrum pre-birth. And my, all things being equal at birth, infants feel and crawl to the boob to breastfeed and enjoy its fill, and the warmth and presence it gives them; amongst other things. Beyond birth, infants continue to root for the boob over and over again, for all it has to offer. By toddlerhood, rooting is replaced with asking to breastfeed for a range of reasons.

The survival of humans so far, is significantly connected to breastfeeding. When it comes to infant and toddler feeding, breastfeeding’s place is without doubt established.

Now, this isn’t to say that there are no hiccups; far from it. As with any other biological norms, nature doesn’t always work as intended; and even when it does, its workings can be negatively impacted by other factors. And of course, modern society allows us more than ever before, to bypass nature’s way if we choose for whatever reason, in a range of areas.

Breastfeeding is not excluded from the imperfect nature of nature. There are mothers who cannot produce enough milk for their infants, and in some cases none. Yes, these instances are far in between and they constitute a really tiny percentage of breastfeeding mums.

There are also mums that cannot breastfeed for medical reasons, don’t want to breastfeed for psychological reasons, or indeed no reason at all.

In addition, there are mums who want to breastfeed but unfortunately don’t get enough support to meeting their goals.

In all these instances, World Breastfeeding Week is about breastfeeding (#18).

Then there is artificial milk, first created to reduce the infant mortality rate caused by inadequate to no breastfeeding; especially when donor milk – expressed or directly – wasn’t available or accessible, and when homemade alternatives didn’t work. Great, right; if you can’t have the real McCoy for whatever reason, an adequate substitute is better than nothing.

O well, thanks to human greed, concern for the survival of our young (if this was ever the case) soon became a façade to make more profit, at the expense of our young and their families. Breastfeeding, the biological and cultural norm that generations of humans mostly thrived on, became vulnerable to the exploitative nature of capitalisation. So that, that which was meant to help address nature’s shortfall is now its brutal competitor. The infant feeding landscape is now so detrimental to the time-tested nature’s way of preserving our young, that it needs to be rescued for the good of humanity.

This is where World Breastfeeding Week and many other breastfeeding awareness efforts comes in; to contribute to the salvaging of the age-old art and science of breastfeeding, by empowering mothers and families to give their children the best start in life.

So, during WBW, I don’t want to see headlines about how to stop breastfeeding, a gravely endangered act in the UK with its world’s lowest breastfeeding rate, and shocking attitude to public and toddler breastfeeding.

I don’t want to see headlines about how breastfeeding isn’t beautiful; because not only is beauty in the eyes of the beholder, even its perceived ugliness serves a purpose if it’s closely explored. There is definitely nothing beautiful about the malnourished and dying innocent children in low-income countries, that breastfeeding could have prevented.

I don’t want to see headlines challenging the health claims of breastfeeding, with no reference to that of its substitutes; or the ‘cons’ of breastfeeding without mentioning the risks associated with artificial milk.

I don’t want to see headlines that disregards the importance of what and how we feed our children, whilst society stresses the importance of what and how we eat.

I don’t want to see headlines about why there shouldn’t be a World Breastfeeding Week because the evidence and arguments for one surpasses any views against it … because World Breastfeeding Week is not about an individual’s agenda or feelings but rather about the global agenda of securing the safest and best nutrition for infants and toddlers for generations to come … because no one is compelled to acknowledge and support the Week and what it is about …

I know we live in a free society, with freedom of expression; but I don’t think it’s too much to ask for us to spare a thought for the majority that breastfeeding is the difference between an early death and a chance at life. Yes, let’s spare a thought for mothers who are struggling to find their feet with breastfeeding, and need the support that this Week promotes. Let’s consider new parents who need objective information to make the best decision for their families about what and how to feed their infant. Let’s remember the environment, and back the greenest way to nourish our young.

And indeed, let’s spare a thought for mums who want to breastfeed but don’t manage to make it at all, or for as long as they would like; for a range of reasons. This Week is a reminder that we need to do more to support people in achieving their breastfeeding goals.

And also for mums who do not want to breastfeed for whatever reason. This Week is also about efforts that we need to continue making to ensure they have access to accurate information, as well as safe breastfeeding substitutes and their paraphernalia, which are marketed appropriately.


What helpful or disturbing breastfeeding related articles did you read during this World Breastfeeding Week?


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What World Breastfeeding Week is and isn’t about

I came across many comments last week that clearly showed a significant lack of knowledge and understanding about what World Breastfeeding Week is and isn’t about. It challenged me to review what I know, and find out more.

So, what is World Breastfeeding Week (WBW)?  

WBW is the global breastfeeding awareness week that commemorates the Innocenti Declaration (1990 and 2005), with a yearly focus to help tackle key breastfeeding issues. It is organised and managed by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), and it started in 1992. WABA is “a global network of organisations and individuals who believe breastfeeding is the right of all children and mothers and who dedicate themselves to protect, promote and support this right.”

WABA and WBW draw attention to key issues that affect breastfeeding internationally; underpinned by key infant feeding documents like:

And with reference to other key breastfeeding protection documents like:

If you want to know more about WABA’s work, these documents and others are worth checking out.

WBW significantly contributes to WABA’s vision of working towards

“a world where breastfeeding is the cultural norm, where mothers and families are enabled to feed and care optimally for their infants and young children thus contributing to a just and healthy society.”

There seems to be so much misconception about the purpose of World Breastfeeding Week. It is very important to know what this awareness week is about and isn't about, when responding to it. This post helps to clarify the core goals of World Breastfeeding Week. | @aNoviceMum

What is World Breastfeeding Week about?

It is about equality, equity, and justice for all infants and young children, no matter the financial / social status of their parents, or the economic development of their country.

It is about working towards reducing the poverty gap from the start of life, through access to optimal infant and toddler feeding.

It is about securing the rights of parents to accurate infant feeding information that is free of commercial interests.

It is about local and national advocacy for mothers and their families to receive enough support, at the right time, to optimally feed their infants and toddlers, from their first hour of birth.

It is about empowering mothers to have confidence in their ability to continue nurturing their children in the normal and best way possible, post birth.

It is about providing breastfeeding education to health professionals and families, free from undermining commercial interests.

It is about contributing to the protection of maternal and infant health in all circumstances, through minimising the exploitation of commercial interests, during a very vulnerable time.

It is about encouraging governments to stand up for women and children, through making laws to enable all children to have the best start in life, through optimal nutrition, and so much more.

It is about highlighting the risks of artificial feeding (food and utensils), and the truth about commercially produced weaning food amidst the aggressive profiteering of the unscrupulous tendencies of the infant / toddler food industry.

It is about challenging the poor marketing practices of the profit-making infant food industry and curbing their exploitative ways.

It is about holding the infant food industry accountable for the production of safe breastfeeding substitutes and delivery systems, and ensuring that parents have accurate information about their use.

It is about supporting mothers to make informed decisions about the best way to feed their children, through access to accurate infant feeding information; in order to breastfeed optimally and for as long as possible, and when needed, to bottle-feed safely and as best as possible.

It is about deconstructing anti-breastfeeding societal norms, and untangling age-old infant feeding myths, to help create a culture where breastfeeding thrives without restriction … where breastfeeding for as long as one wants, and wherever one’s baby needs feeding, is not unusual … where breastfeeding works with women’s work commitments.

It is about the well-being of infants and young children, their mothers and families, and indeed overall public health; as well as environmental sustainability, the economy, and more.

What is World Breastfeeding Week not about?

It is not about making anyone feel good or bad, arrogant or guilty.

It is not a word wrestling arena for breastfeeding and formula feeding mums … definitely not about the ego of ‘badass’ breastfeeders and ‘fearless’ or ‘defensive’ formula feeders, or gentle breastfeeders and reluctant formula feeders.

It is not a marketing opportunity to be exploited by the multi-billion dollars infant food industry to mask their underlying undermining of breastfeeding under the guise of ‘breastfeeding support’.

I mean, let’s not kid ourselves, the lower the breastfeeding rate and the more unsure parents are about weaning, the more profit for the infant food industry to make.

It is not a time for generic clichés that sweep key infant feeding issues and uncomfortable realities under the carpet.

It is not a time to wallow in negative past infant / toddler feeding experiences, or one to repeat recycled ‘comfortable’ inaccurate information, in comments and through memes.

It’s neither the time for ‘what about me’ pity parties and the misconstruing of facts for attacks, and information for judgement; nor the time for using facts to attack and information to judge.

Let’s get this straight, WBW is not personal or exclusive; all forms of infant and toddler feeding will be worse off without the efforts of WABA and others; thanks to the erosion and aggression of commercial interests.

I also don’t think it’s the time to publish and share half-baked articles with click-bait headlines that divert attention from the goals of this Week. Seriously, there are 51 other weeks available for these, if they must be.

I could go on and on about what World Breastfeeding Week is and isn’t about …

So, simply put …

World Breastfeeding Week is about the promotion, protection, and support of breastfeeding. Yes, it is about breastfeeding awareness; which not surprisingly gets breastfeeding mothers in all their variety, into a celebratory mood. It is about respecting human rights, and creating an equitable and healthy society for all.  

 It is not about breastfeeding undermining comments and tactics, or the side-lining of the users of artificial milk. It is about saving the lives of babies and toddlers around the world, and creating a supportive environment for all mums to make informed decisions about how they will feed their infants, free from subtle and obvious commercial ploys.

So, as we react to World Breastfeeding Week, let’s make sure that we know what exactly we are responding to. Otherwise, anger, annoyance, frustration, time-wasting, and other such negative feelings will rob us of getting the most out of it.

And if World Breastfeeding Week, isn’t your thing … not reflective of your experience or beliefs … fine, ignore it … scroll past it … don’t comment on it … don’t give it a second thought.

I know this topic is bigger than what I’ve written … I definitely have more to write about it.


What did you think of World Breastfeeding Week?

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Key Breastfeeding Awareness Events 2016: UK and Worldwide

It’s that time of the year again, when many around the world celebrate local, national, and international breastfeeding awareness events – days, weeks, and months. As a breastfeeding mother of almost 30 months and counting, with a keen interest in the beautiful mothering / family / societal act, art, and science of breastfeeding, this is an exciting time.

It’s also a fab time to win breastfeeding related prizes and get breastfeeding related products at a discount from relevant brands; and indeed a time to help raise money for vital breastfeeding services in our communities.

All through the year in various countries, many breastfeeding awareness events are held, some as a matter of course; like the annual general meetings of different breastfeeding charities. And other events are more ad hoc, to protest against breastfeeding prejudice and discrimination; like nurse-ins, where mothers gather in agreed locations to lawfully and publicly breastfeed their children. These events are vital for the promotion, protection, and support of breastfeeding worldwide.

Below is a list of key breastfeeding awareness events in the UK, US, and around the world in 2016; it’s of course not an exhaustive list. Perhaps you’ve heard of some, most, or all of them. They are events that are no doubt informative and definitely interesting to all who want to find out more about breastfeeding, and further engage with this amazing act.

A list of key breastfeeding awareness events in 2016, which aims to promote, protect, and support breastfeeding worldwide. They help to celebrate the act, art, and science of breastfeeding; and are a vital source of evidence based and lived experience information for all interesting in learning more about breastfeeding. | aNoviceMum | adventuresofanovicemum.co.uk

Key Breastfeeding Awareness Dates 2016

October / November

The Breastfeeding Network’s Big Tea Break fundraising event is a fun event for families, volunteers, and health professionals to get involved with. It aims to raise money for the Network’s Drugs in Breastmilk Information Service, a vital portal that has empowered many women to continue their breastfeeding journey beyond what they might have thought possible.

August

World Breastfeeding Week, now in its 24th year, and celebrated in over 170 countries, runs from Monday 1 to Sunday 7 August. This year’s theme explores the vital role of breastfeeding within sustainability. This is in relation to its contribution to the achievement of the 17 sustainable development goals that world leaders committed to last September, towards ending poverty around the world. The theme addresses 5 broad links between breastfeeding and the sustainable goals:

  1. nutrition and food security
  2. health, well-being, and survival
  3. environment and climate change,
  4. work productivity, empowerment, and social protection
  5. sustainable partnerships and rule of law

I really like this year’s theme because of its link to different development issues over the next 14 years. This exploration of the role of breastfeeding in how we “value our wellbeing from the start of life, how to respect each other and care for the world we share” is definitely thought-provoking.

In the US, August is also National Breastfeeding Month – how fab is that … a whole month of focused breastfeeding advocacy, towards the creation of a more breastfeeding friendly society. Their focus this year is about reflecting on and reviewing the progress made in the last 5 years, on the call to action to make breastfeeding easier, and to plan for continued breastfeeding support for the next 5 years, in the US. The last week of this Month ends with Black Breastfeeding Week (BBW), for the 4th year. This year, BBW’s focus is on “spotlighting the sweet joy of family bonds and perseverance”.

The Big Latch On is happening towards the end of World Breastfeeding Week this year, at 10.30am on Friday 5 and Saturday 6 August. It’s a lovely celebration of breastfeeding, and a fun way to raise awareness and promote local, national, and international support for it. You can register online to host a Latch On, or find a location near you to attend one.

Normalizingbreastfeeding.org celebrated the 2nd International Day to Normalize Breastfeeding on 27 June, and they are celebrating the 1st US Breastfeeding Law Awareness Day on 10 August. These new breastfeeding awareness events are ones to explore, and I suspect they will continue to grow over the years.

June

UK National Breastfeeding Week ran from Saturday 18 June to Monday 27 June. This year’s theme was about celebrating breastfeeding by raising awareness of breastfeeding support on a local level, as well as the health value of breastfeeding for mums and babies, and indeed the general public. As usual, there were many local and regional activities to celebrate the week, including the Breastfeeding Festival at Salford in Manchester, during the 2nd weekend of the Week.

unfortunately, one of the highlights of this Week didn’t happen this year; the lovely Keep Britain Breastfeeding and its impressive scavenger hunt for fabulous breastfeeding prizes. Check out the themed blogs on Boobie Milk‘s June / August 2012 to 2015 archives for a good variety of breastfeeding reads from different bloggers.

May

The Breastfeeding Network runs one of their annual breastfeeding fundraising events, Mum’s Milk Run, over a week in May / June. It’s a fun event to get involved with, to raise breastfeeding awareness and support the Network’s fantastic work. It’s definitely an event that makes a difference for many, and one I’ll like to get involved with in the future.

Medela UK launched The Big Breastfeeding Cafe this year, bringing together lots of breastfeeding mums across the country, for awareness and mum to mum support on 18 May. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get involved due to work commitments; but it sure brought back lovely memories of the Medela breastfeeding cafes I hosted last year.

April

Medela held its 11th International Breastfeeding and Lactation Symposium in Berlin, Germany on Friday 15  to Saturday 16 April 2016. They brought together 400 participants from 41 countries, and 9 scientists from 5 countries to “discuss the results of the latest scientific research on the importance of breast milk and implementation of findings in clinical practice”.

  1. Breast milk provides life-long health protection
  2. Breastfeeding protects against chronic diseases
  3. Human milk – the earlier it is given, the better
  4. Human milk: the natural combination of nutrition and health protection
  5. Human milk – its constituents makes it unique
  6. Human milk – the optimum food for preterm babies
  7. New approaches to neonatal treatment

Summaries of the presentations and short videos of the speakers can be accessed online; as well as abstracts of the key topics.

I hope you found this list helpful.


Did you or are you planning to participate in any of these events? 


If you found this useful, please share; or get in touch with @aNoviceMum on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

A list of key breastfeeding awareness events in 2016, which aims to promote, protect, and support breastfeeding worldwide. They help to celebrate the act, art, and science of breastfeeding; and are a vital source of evidence based and lived experience information for all interesting in learning more about breastfeeding. | aNoviceMum | adventuresofanovicemum.co.uk

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Feeling Grateful on World Toilet Day

I stumbled on World Toilet Day today – 19 November 2015 – and it got me investigating. What I found out left me with feelings of gratitude for the humble toilet that is taken for granted by so many.

I mean, how many times do you look at the toilet and feel thankful?

Of the 7.3 billion plus people on earth, about 2.4 billion don’t have access to basic sanitation, and almost 1 billion people still poop in the open! Seriously …. can you believe that …. read the stats again and let it sink in … that’s about 40% of the world’s population without access to needed sanitation, and 15% with no private space to ‘go’.

Do you now what that means?

1 in 3 people do not have access to a proper toilet. Stop and imagine that … difficult one, isn’t it? I mean, I know not everyone has access to a toilet but I didn’t know it was that bad. I can’t believe that about 1 in 7 / 8 people don’t have a designated private space … not even a latrine (hole in the ground) to defacate.

My word … unbelievable, right?

The toilet took on a new significance for me towards the end of my pregnancy. On average, we go to the toilet about 6 to 8 times in a day; roughly 2,500 visits in a year. Growing a baby increased my daily toilet visits; and now with a toddler on hand, going to the toilet is quite an ocassion.

I’m not even going to tell you about how normal and sometimes exciting it’s been talking about poo and pooping this last 21 months. And as we gradually move towards so-called potty training, I can’t imagine not having a toilet that is clean and one that flushes.

To think that there are pregnant women out there who have no toilet to use for those needed midnight bladder emptying visits … to think that so many don’t have a toilet to use as their child grows is one that makes me feel so sad.

World Toilet Day 2015

Why does this matter?

In 2013, about 2000 children under the age of 5 died every day from diarrhoea; I wish I could say that I think this figure is less in 2015 … I of course hope it is. This is a figure that is just mind-blowing …. seriously … that many children die every day from a preventable disease? Diarrhoea is said to be the 2nd highest killer of children in the world; but it doesn’t have to be.

Unsanitary toilet conditions also helps to spread other horrible diseases like cholera, typhoid, hepatitis etc. In many countries, the norm is that over 80%  of raw and untreated sewage ends up in lakes and rivers. And you know what? many folks end up drinking this sewage polluted water … unthinkable!

And as with many global issues that need addressing, females are worse off in this sanitation crisis. It’s not shocking that many girls in affected areas end up dropping out of school because of it. I mean, who wants to be using unclean school ‘toilet’ spaces when they have their period? And fancy how safe it is for girls who have to ‘go’ in the open; I don’t want to think about the sexual violence that has directly resulted from this, for so many.

A staggering 443 million school days are lost because of this issue; that’s like every school in Britian shutting down for 3 months … hard to imagine, isn’t it?

Who would have thought that toilets have such power to be such game changers for the life chances and future of so many.

We need to know, we need to talk about it, and do what we can to support those in these situations. This is a reality I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

The next time you want to moan about a relatively alright public loo, or your less than fancy toilet a home, please spare a thought for the billions without any.

Below is a helpful infographic I found by Splashdirect to raise awareness of World Toilet Day; it gives a good overview and much to think about.

Rape is NEVER Right; No means No! #ConsentIs

The thought that someone could be forced, violently or not, to engage in a most intimate act, however this is expressed, confounds me. I can’t fathom the thought that anyone could possibly derive any real enjoyment from taking advantage of someone in this way. I can’t comprehend how and why someone thinks it okay to put another human being through such agonizing pain, humiliation, and shame. What a horrible exchange – a few moments of sick pleasure for such anguish.

When I learnt about the Crown Prosecution Service’s (CPS) #ConsentIs campaign, I had to get involved. My word, what part of ‘No means No’ do some folks not get? If it is not a clear ‘YES’, then it’s a ‘NO’!

No means No

You see, I’m a teacher and this part of the year includes seeing and hearing about many of my ex-students going off to Uni. It’s so wonderful to see them achieve so much and I’m always so excited for them as they start this new chapter of their lives.

This is unfortunately dampened with the fact that universities, with its irresponsible drink culture, now seem to be a place conducive to rape.

UK Universities, and indeed others around the world appear to have a so-called and disturbing ‘rape culture’. In the UK, about 1 in 3 female students are said to be sexually violated. In the US, it is 1 in 5, according to Lady Gaga’s really sad ‘Til It Happens To You’ video.

Sexual assaults, sexual coercion, groping, unwanted and forced advances, and other forms of sexual harassment are shockingly more common than one dares to imagine. How I hope that my ex-students don’t experience this ugly side of a place that is meant to be one of advanced learning and higher level thinking.

I hope they remember their brief lesson in RS about consent.

CONSENT is ONLY consent if and ONLY IF:

  • one is capable of giving it

  • one freely gives it

  • one is legally of age to give it

The CPS’ campaign also highlights that

“Consent may be given to one sort of sexual activity but not another.

Consent can be withdrawn at any time during sexual activity and each time an activity occurs.”


I will adjust my lesson this year to include these points, and I will spend longer facilitating a reflective discussion about consent, its purpose, its importance, its impact, and the effects and consequences of its violation.

I can’t even begin to imagine the cost of violated consent. As I said to my students yesterday, if we treat others the way we’ll like to be treated, the world will be a much better place. I doubt a rapist will want to be treated the way they treat those they prey on.

The Office of National Statistics’ annual report of crimes in England and Wales for the year ending March 2015, makes for grim reading.  Unlike the decrease in many areas of police crime records, sexual offenses and violence against people increased. The rise in sexual offences is the … GET THIS … largest year-on-year rise since 2002/2003 when the National Crime Recording Standard was introduced.

  • 88,219 sexual offenses were recorded by the police, 29,265 of this was rape and 58, 954 of other sexual offenses.
  • Recorded sexual offences rose by a whooping 37%, that is 23, 990 more than the previous year.
    • Of this, rape went up by 41%, and other sexual offences by 36%!

Some of the rise reflect the fact more victims are coming forward, especially in reporting historic offenses, and also the improvement in the recording of crimes. Sadly, there is also a rise in current sexually offenses.

See the Rape Crisis England & Wales for more relevant statistics, information, and support.

London’s oldest and largest Rape Crisis Centre, the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre (Rape Crisis South London)” marks its 30 years anniversary this year. I’m sure a society where there isn’t a need for this kind of centre is preferable to most people. Rape victim referrals from the mental health services to their long-term therapy service has risen by 30%!

This centre and other related charities like Peterborough Rape Crisis Care Group rely on government funding and public generosity to fund their short and long term support services for Rape Victims. It’s crazy that their funding and that of other related charities are threatened, especially considering that the “reports of rape are at the highest levels they have been for 10 years”!

We live in a world where rape and other sexual assault is more common that our minds can bear to know – in places of education, on the transport system etc … a world where it is even used as a weapon in war. It affects children and adults, males and females, from every walk of life. It can happen to any of us and it’s NEVER the victim’s fault.

Let’s take action to embed the meaning of consent in our young and old, so that perhaps next year’s statistics isn’t so depressing. Let’s take action now so that less lives are destroyed. Let’s talk about what consent means and challenge any ignorance about it.

SEXUAL CONSENT is A RIGHT that we all have; it is MUTUAL, and not ONE-SIDED! No means no and sexual violation is NEVER RIGHT.

The National Rape Crisis helpline – 0808 802 9999 – is available every day of the year from 12 noon – 2.30pm and 7 – 9.30pm for confidential support and information.

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What do you think about this #ConsentIs
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Linkup: #SundayStars 18Oct15 (Amy & Heledd)

#ClearAPlate @ #Blogfest14

I can’t even tell you how excited I am to be writing my first post, and even more because my first post is about changing things for the better. Continue reading