She was fussing again at the breast, as she had done before at bedtime. My boobs were very soft; they felt empty … like they had given all they had at the moment. I usually reminded myself that it’s okay … that I have enough for two nurslings … that she will be fine. I sometimes rationed bedtime feeding between my preschooler and baby; with my baby having priority. My hard built breastfeeding confidence is stronger than it has ever been, but not that night. Continue reading
I’m going to the launch of The Breastfeeding Advert
Yah … I’m going to the launch of The Breastfeeding Advert, part of Tiny Human’s Human Milk project. ‘Terrified and excited’ doesn’t quite capture how I feel. Over 6 hours round-trip train travel (with multiple changes) with a newborn is daunting but worth being part of history in the making. With little to no spare time during the day, I’ve not even had the time to try on my fabulous bargain of a dress from Milk and Mummy. Continue reading
You’ve seen them on Facebook, haven’t you? Yes, I’m talking about the beautiful, colourful, and artistic tree of life breastfeeding photos that seems to have given more breastfeeding mamas the confidence to share their magical brelfies. It’s definitely not surprising that breastfeeding tree of life pictures have become a viral trend.
I find their colour combinations intriguing and fascinating, and I couldn’t resist creating my own breastfeeding tree pictures; thanks to what has now become the tree of life breastfeeding app – PicsArt.
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Link in bio for a simple tutorial on how to make yours with @picsartstudios . What's your favourite? I can't decide which I like best. . Growing one through my bosom, and the other through my womb – what an awesome privilege! . #ukparentbloggers #thismamaloves #rememberingthesedays
They are so easy to make … but be warned: they make for easy time-consuming distraction.
So, here we go … my easy peasy step-by-step guide and most comprehensive tutorial for making your very own tree of life breastfeeding pictures in 3 key steps:
1. Choose the breastfeeding and tree pictures you want to combine
- Search for and save your desired tree or other picture from Google or other search engines
- Search for ‘tree of life’ for example
- Tap the picture you want
- Tap the ‘options’ to ‘view original image’
- Tap the ‘option’ (↑ in a square on iOS) to save the image
- Or draw your tree picture and upload it to your pictures folder
2. Remix your picture with the PicsArt Photo Studio editing app
- Download the PicsArt photo editing app to your Android, IOS, or Windows device
- Open PicsArt to access your breastfeeding photo
- tap the pink + symbol,
- tap ‘Edit‘,
- Scroll through the edit options, and tap ‘Add Photo‘ (7th option) to add your tree picture
- Scroll through the edit options, and tap ‘Stickers‘ (6th option), then use the search icon to look for the ‘tree of life‘ stickers, to choose a tree from the app
- Enlarge or reduce, rotate and position your tree picture where you want – usually overlapping your child’s latch
- Tap the ‘Blend‘ edit option (this is rarely needed if your tree is from the ‘tree of life’ stickers in the app)
- choose ‘Overlay‘ for transparent tree pictures or ‘Multiply‘, ‘Color Burn‘, ‘Darken‘ for those with a background, to merge it with your breastfeeding picture
- Tap ‘Apply‘ from the top menu to confirm you’re happy with your edits so far
- Then tap the ‘Magic‘ edit option for a range of filters to transform your picture
- Lastly, tap the ‘Apply‘ option to confirm your final edit
3. Save your edited picture
- Tap the forward arrow → to share or/and save your tree of life breastfeeding picture
It really is as simple as these, and you’ll be a pro at the steps by the time you work through it once or twice.
And guess what? You can now share and chat about it in my Breastfeeding Expressions Facebook Group.
- You can undo changes throughout the editing process, even after you’ve saved or shared an edited picture
- I’ve created different images of the tree of life breastfeeding pictures this way
- Feel free to experiment with the edit options on the app, you might be pleasantly surprised
- You can, for example, adjust the opacity of tree picture before or after editing in the ‘Blend’ mode
- The most popular filters in the ‘Magic’ editing mode seems to be:
What else can you do with your picture?
You can get it printed on cards / keyrings /canvas / cushions / textiles etc, and you can do these quite cheaply on sites like 1clickprint.com.
How did you get on? Let me know if you have any questions or need any help.
Feel free to tag me on Social Media to check out your creations.
Don’t forget to join the Breastfeeding Expressions Facebook Group to share your #TreeofLife breastfeeding pictures and other breastfeeding inspired pieces.
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My first journey didn’t start well, despite our amazing first latch. Even then, the pains and tears of our challenging beginning aren’t wasted, and my dogged determination and perseverance paid off. So, as I start another journey whilst continuing my first of almost 3 years, my breastfeeding hopes and dreams is pregnant with expectations.
My Breastfeeding Hopes
1. Straightforward breastfeeding
No multitude of folks trying to squeeze liquid gold out of me … no resulting bruised and battered breasts … no stress, confusion, fear, desperation, loss of dignity … none of these or similar, thank you.
Instead, I pray and hope that my new babe and I find our breastfeeding way without the need for intrusive interventions … that my newborn feeds well and finds it easy to transfer the needed quantity of colostrum and milk.
2. Adequately informed breastfeeding
I have learned so much about breastfeeding … a case of education attained out of desperation. And my, do I hope my breastfeeding literacy works in my favour? You bet I do. Breastfeeding ignorance is definitely not bliss.
So yes, I hope my knowledge of positioning, attachment, feeding frequency, tongue tie, skin-to-skin, newborn stomach size, and so much more, comes in handy. I hope my awareness of off and online breastfeeding resources works in my favour.
3. Right support at the right time
No unhelpful or partly accurate information from professionals, please. These kept me in hospital longer than needed and landed me in the ‘formula top up trap’ that took months and ‘sweat’ to overcome.
So, if I need any help this time, I hope I get the right one on time; not well over a month later, costing me precious enjoyment of my child’s early months.
4. Milk on time
Given that I’ve been breastfeeding for almost 3 years non-stop, I really hope my milk comes in on time, and in the needed quantity and flow.
5. ‘Easy’ tandem nursing journey
Lumpy breasts, blocked ducts, engorgement, mastitis, and friends – be warned, I’ve got a toddler on hand. I hope tandem nursing comes instinctively to us, like breastfeeding during pregnancy did.
6. No blebs, thrush, or other boob nasties
Milk blisters … blebs … ouch … please stay away.
7. Two working boobs
No more one-side-breastfeeding please; almost 2 years of this is enough. I really hope the other side gets back in action and works better this time.
My Breastfeeding Dreams
8. Breast crawl
However I birth, I’d love to experience the wonder of my newborn crawling up my tummy to suckle – precious and priceless.
9. Easy, painless, and stress-free breastfeeding
I can’t remember when last a latch started without some degree and seconds of pain – this has been breastfeeding through pregnancy for us. And the breast pains of those early days … I’d rather not go back there.
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I woke up this morning with streams of words Pulsating through my brain – a letter to my body . Dear body, my very womanly body Devoid of the typical sizes and stats For the group you are assigned to But how so complete and perfect you are . So adequate for the womanly task of motherhood So enough to conceive, nurture, bring forth, and mind So awesomely fabulous to gloriously accomplish so much So amazingly incredible beyond my measure . My word, you’re beautifully strong and powerful Deserving of awards that haven’t been invented More golden than any Oscar and greater than any Brit Your achievements surpases the greatest of inventions . Look at you, my body Born in turmoil and dysfunction Bullied and riled and even abused by some But look how tall you stand today . Yes, those slim legs holding an ever growing bump Those thighs supporting a developing and wiggly toddler Your mind keeping together against so much battering My, you’re making it through 9 months of SO MUCH GIVING . The nay sayers implied you shouldn’t dare The doomsayers said you mustn't consider But your bosom couldn’t deny your toddler Even as your bump supports your babe . And now you’re almost there The end in sight, another journey to embrace We’re not in a hurry, mind But we’re almost there now . Breastfeeding one from outside Nourishing another from inside Nurturing so many, mind, body, and soul Just like that, YOU ARE DOING IT . No recognition required No commending demanded It’s just what you do Every second of what you are . My, you make me feel strong You make me feel so powerful So much taller beyond my height With so much more to offer than I can contemplate . Gratitude to the Awesome Wonder who made you so Who knit you together whilst in my mother’s womb Who caused me to really see and appreciate you Who upholds and keeps me so . Thanks to all my good Samaritans Who walk with me and support my journey I wouldn’t have made it this far without your help . Oh my body, My fabulously beautiful powerful body How I love you so How grateful I am for you . The words were more articulate in my head But this will have to do for now 😁 . #breastfeedingmoment #rememberingthesedays
So yes, I’m dreaming of a calming, easy, and pain-free breastfeeding experience, from the start and throughout, this time around.
10. Breastfeeding during labour
This is my pipe-dream, one I really hope might just be realised. I really want my toddler with me at the hospital, and I’d love the opportunity to continue feeding him on request during labour – easy oxytocin release and extra womb contractions … good for labour and birth, I think.
But really, I just want him with us during this life changing moment, and I’m happy to meet his breastfeeding needs whilst journeying with our little addition into our world.
I had the opportunity to ask Medela UK’s in-house Lactation Consultant, Sioned Hilton, some breastfeeding questions.
- Would this pain subside post-birth, when I start my tandem nursing journey? #9
This is difficult to predict as it could be as a result of several things. What you will expect is a surge in discomfort for the first few minutes when you trigger your milk ejection reflex. This will result in you experiencing after-pains as the surge in oxytocin results in the myo-epithelial cells to contract around the milk cells – squeezing the milk from the alveolus down the ductal network. This will also trigger your uterus to contract. Some mums feedback that the after-pains really do take your breath away and you need to utilize those breathing techniques used during labour as the spasm can be that intense.
It may also be that you are currently experiencing vaso-spasm when you have milk ejection that causes breastpain but this eases as the feed progresses.
When pregnant the hormones can make nursing a little more uncomfortable but it is a case of reflecting after birth – is this tender or painful because it’s the same as before the new baby or is it as a result of not a great latch, mastitis, infection. Keeping an open mind and looking at things from a new mum perspective may be useful for the first few weeks as you initiate your supply and breastfeeding with your newborn.
- If my positioning and attachment are correct, can I expect pain-free breastfeeding from the side I haven’t breastfed from for a while? #7
Again, every pregnancy and baby is different. Your pregnancy hormones may be suppressing the milk hormones a little and depending on the frequency you feed your toddler. As your pregnancy progresses your non-lactating breast will be making more glandular tissue and it may well be that you start to experience some milk leakage as you let down when you feed your toddler.
You are likely to experience nipple tenderness in the first few days, weeks but nursing should not be painful – you will need to go back to the basics and check that latch is good as your toddler will have found his own technique and some gymnastics on the way. Always having someone to check and assess that all is well is recommended with your midwife or breastfeeding specialist.
Again, breast pain can be because of the surge in oxytocin, ductal spasm or vasospasm – if you experience cold hands and feet it could be that this is a factor. A warm compress as you feed and massage may support less discomfort.
- What are your top tips for tandem nursing a baby and a very active toddler who is almost 3 years old?
Your priority will be nursing your newborn and as your milk production come to volume your newborn will have colostrum and milk. Expect your toddler to feel a little lost as this has been a time and place that he has loved and will continue to do so. You may find having a box of toys at hand that you can play with your toddler and nurse at the same time. Your toddler may even join you to feed their doll baby, books, jigsaws, or some quiet time with a smart device can make it easier for the first few weeks as you need to have the flexibility of trying different positions to see what suits you all. A baby sling may also be worth buying or borrowing so that you can nurse and plug in but also have a free hand to play with your toddler. Siblings are amazing and flexible. Initially expect a few toilet accidents, waking at night, mood changes but they soon accept that the new baby is here to stay and just get on with things.
What are your breastfeeding (or other) hopes and dreams?
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You’re reading about someone’s breastfeeding experience … nodding in agreement or not … empathizing … sympathising … connecting with it on a range of emotional and intellectual levels … then you get to the point or paragraph … the one that tells you about how the writer’s points are not meant to cause offence … how other options are okay too … and so on and so forth. Oh yes, bring on the tiring and unnecessary ‘breastfeeding emotional disclaimers’! Continue reading
I just read an article from a so-called* ‘formula-feeding mom’ questioning ‘breastfeeding mums’ who “feel the need to flaunt it on social media” – a need she doesn’t feel despite formula feeding her “babies everywhere moms have breastfed”.
* blog post on the way
I’ve chosen not to look the other way with this one … I’m just fed up with this kind of disempowering comparison and my comment is a blog post in its own right, so here we go.
I read your recent blog on Baby Center and it touched a nerve that I can’t ignore. I’m pleased for you that you’re not ashamed of formula feeding – I’m not either – and that you’re pleased you’ve never posted a photo of yourself feeding your babies on social media.
It’s a shame you “certainly feel judged from time to time for not breastfeeding”. It’s of course worth noting that no one necessarily needs to judge us for us to feel judged. We sometimes judge ourselves based on our perceptions and baggages about what we think others think of us or our actions. And to those who might have judged you for a choice that isn’t theirs to make, I hope they learn to give more time to dealing with issues in their own lives.
I found your comparison of the reasons why you don’t share pictures of you formula feeding your babies on social media to that of why you don’t share photos of your diaper changing, distasteful. These 2 activities evoke very different feelings. Diaper changing is getting rid of waste whilst feeding babies is about nourishment. I doubt anyone gazes lovingly at diaper changes and desires to spend more time than needed doing it, or feels much of a need to capture multiple pictures of it for memory lane … very different to feeding babies.
And you know, I actually wish you stated your reasons for not sharing your baby feeding pictures, instead of assuming it to be obvious.
Your language about the social media sharing of breastfeeding photos is concerning: flaunting … bragging. I wonder how you came to these conclusions: that those who share breastfeeding pictures on social media are doing so to boast, impress, draw attention to themselves, make others jealous etc.
I admit I once posted a breastfeeding photo on Instagram in defiance … that’s another story for another day.
I must say that I have nothing against breastfeeding photos being shared to flaunt and brag … I don’t think you would either, not if you consider the mountain of hurdles many mothers overcome to achieve their breastfeeding goals, fully or partially.
Unlike in the cave days you refer to, when breastfeeding was the go-to way to feed babies, breastfeeding in the modern world is an achievement literally fought for by many of the minority of women who choose it.
And in answer to your question, I don’t think fellow cave moms felt a need to brag to each other about breastfeeding; your guess is as good as mine since we both weren’t there. One thing for sure though, is that breastfeeding was visually represented during that time and beyond … formula feeding and diaper changes were not.
I don’t think their images of breastfeeding were to give other mamas a relational anchor during breastfeeding tough times, but rather to acknowledge and celebrate the amazing and organic beauty of a mesmerizing life-sustaining act of intense love, and even immense sacrifice for some.
I wonder why you “think it’s beyond awesome to breastfeed”. I mean, if it is … and despite being one of the many ways we care for our babies … what is so annoying about the visual representation of something so amazing amidst the tons of drivel on social media?
I also wonder why you wish you stuck with breastfeeding longer, though formula feeding vanquished your breastfeeding tears and pain; making you a happier mom.
Is it not possible to write about your journey without commenting so unpleasantly about the journey of others. By all means, write about what you wouldn’t do and why; and if you’re truly interested, ask or wonder loudly about why others do those things. Deriding and belittling others, especially when you seem to want what they have, however subtly, is just not cool.
Are you seriously saying that you don’t see photos of formula feeding on social media? How do you escape them on Facebook and Instagram especially?
And talking about bottles that you wonder if “formula-feeding moms should start flaunting after all” … I must say that I wonder what exactly you have in mind … I mean, how much more can bottles be part of our infant feeding societal norm?
What emoji represents infant feeding?
What is the main infant feeding image in children’s toys and books?
What is the predominant image in infant feeding adverts on and offline?
What symbol represents designated infant feeding spaces in most shopping malls and service stations?
What are the 2 things that are compared to breastfeeding the most to make maximum profit for their manufacturers, and indeed undermine breastfeeding?
What are often suggested to new mothers to buy in preparation for feeding their babies, even when they’ve decided to breastfeed?
What do many health professionals suggest as alternatives to struggling breastfeeding mothers, even before offering breastfeeding solutions in many instances?
Who or what is stopping formula-feeding moms from FLAUNTING ‘their bottles’; though I’m not sure what exactly about it will be flaunted. I’ve definitely seen formula feeding pictures on and offline, more times than I can remember … if they were flaunting it, it was definitely lost on me.
I also don’t understand the idea of formula-feeding moms flaunting their bottles because they deserve to be celebrated as moms too. Everyone – not just mothers – should be celebrated for a variety of reasons on a daily basis; it’s not a competition, there’s enough space in the world for all of us.
Surely, motherhood doesn’t start or end with how we feed our babies, and how we feed our babies doesn’t define the celebration of motherhood.
Why the need to compare the celebration of formula feeding with that of breastfeeding? This, right there, is part of the root of parenting discontentment and strife. Why not celebrate formula feeding if you want to … the need to celebrate it “like breastfeeding” is problematic on so many levels. I mean, if breastfeeding was a person, it might perhaps feel flattered; but this kind of comparison doesn’t serve mothers.
Comparison is the thief of joy. ~ Theodore Roosevelt
Melissa, seriously, do you … can you not see that infant feeding is skewed in favour of formula and bottle feeding today, and that it’s been for decades? Formula manufacturers invest billions every year, to make sure that expectant mums know about formula and bottles. How many formula brands’ promote their incentivized baby clubs’ to expectant mums, on and offline, throughout their pregnancy and beyond?
So, no, we don’t “truly need to normalize both breast and bottle” … bottles and formula have become the societal and cultural norm in an increasing amount of countries worldwide, for more decades than is good for the world – its people and environment. And let’s face it, this has been to the detriment of breastfeeding – the biological norm – the confidence of mothers in the functioning of their bodies, and the gain of super-rich pharmaceutical companies and other related manufacturing brands.
I formula fed in the early months of our feeding journey, and I overcame what seemed like insurmountable barriers breastfeeding. I still can’t get myself to write about this very difficult part of our feeding journey, though I’ve documented some of my experiences with blocked ducts and blocked ducts. I’m thankful for formula, though I abhor the unethical profit-at-all-cost marketing strategies of formula companies and their exploitative and false claims. I also bottle-fed with both formula and breast milk for different periods of time. Even then, I can’t stand most bottle adverts … profit-making under the guise of caring for parents and their babies is unattractive. I occasionally share our breastfeeding pictures … but my intention has never been to flaunt and brag. And it’s no secret that I love breastfeeding and celebrate it, for a range of reasons.
I’m not sure how to end my letter. I hope every woman in the world makes informed decisions, as much as possible, about the best way to feed their babies; and that they feel the freedom to express this on and offline without the need to compare themselves with others.
A fellow mum
What’s your take on the sharing of feeding pictures on social media?
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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.”
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?
Answer this question as one of your entries into one of my Breastfeeding Awareness Month’s giveaway – Win a box of 14 Mothers Love Cookies (Wed 10 Aug 16 – Tue 23 Aug 16)
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.
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.
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:
- nutrition and food security
- health, well-being, and survival
- environment and climate change,
- work productivity, empowerment, and social protection
- 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.
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.
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.
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”.
- Breast milk provides life-long health protection
- Breastfeeding protects against chronic diseases
- Human milk – the earlier it is given, the better
- Human milk: the natural combination of nutrition and health protection
- Human milk – its constituents makes it unique
- Human milk – the optimum food for preterm babies
- 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?
Our hands are vital, aren’t they; but my, how handy (no pun intended) they are with breastfeeding!
My hands were absolutely crucial when we started our breastfeeding journey.
I vaguely remember the awkwardness of trying to place them comfortably, when my baby was laid next to me for his first latch. Unlike before, I couldn’t just lay my hand or shape my body as I wanted; I had to think of the little person next to me. Thankfully, the joy and surreal euphoria of the moment dwarfed my insignificant concern about the positioning of my hands, as I turned sideways to feed my son. Continue reading
For me, breastfeeding is a gift … a very precious gift.
Why a gift?
Well, for starters, about half of the world’s population can not naturally stimulate milk production, though they could theoretically produce breast milk. 🙂
Of those of us who can naturally lactate by virtue of our gender, there are the few who struggle with producing enough milk for their babies for different medical reasons, and others who produce no milk at all due to e.g. a double mastectomy etc.
There are also the few who lactate but can’t breastfeed because the medication they have to use don’t have a breastfeeding friendly equivalent.
Then of the majority of women who fully lactate and can breastfeed, there are those who don’t want to breastfeed for a range of reasons.
Then there are those who want to breastfeed, but find it too difficult for many reasons – mostly due to lack of adequate information and getting the right support at the right time – to achieve their breastfeeding goals.
There are of course those want to breastfeed, and find it straightforward and easy from the start.
However, there are those who want to breastfeed, find breastfeeding challenging for a range of reasons, but immediately or eventually get the support they need, are willing and able to give it what it might take to work, and in time achieve their original or adjusted breastfeeding goals (if any).
So where is the gift in this?
For me, I belong in the last group I identified.
I didn’t even think about how I was going to feed my baby when I was pregnant. I went to a breastfeeding class but I barely remembered what was said; I suppose I took it for granted that it would come naturally to me, since it’s natural.
I really struggled with making it work for us from the end of our first latch; and I unfortunately didn’t get the right information early on. Nonetheless, I somehow found the strength to commit to doing whatever it took to make breastfeeding work for us – not always the healthiest decision for a new mum, in hindsight.
I was determined to produce enough milk for my baby, and I had lots of hope amidst the despair I used to feel in those early months. My prayers were answered, my efforts eventually paid off, and we’re still going – 2 years and counting.
So for me, it’s a gift because it’s a very precious part of my mothering; one that I had to fight for … even run against the tide of some well-meaning but unhelpful support.
It’s a gift I never knew I wanted, but one I’m so glad I have … a gift that not only gives me a way to nourish my child, but also ways to calm and comfort him, help him to sleep, and even ease his pain on occasions.
It is a gift that has definitely enriched my mothering, and my bonding with my little man.
It’s a gift I couldn’t have gotten the most of it without the compassionate support of so many … a gift that has helped build my character in ways I couldn’t have known was possible.
I’m filled with gratitude for the gift of breastfeeding; and I plan to continue breastfeeding until my little one doesn’t want it anymore.
~ What do you think about the idea of breastfeeding as a gift? ~