The quote below from Gabrielle Palmer’s ‘The Politics of Breastfeeding’ is my favourite quote about breast milk and demonstrates the importance of encouraging breastfeeding to mothers:
‘If a multinational company developed a product that was a nutritionally balanced and delicious food, a wonder drug that both prevented and treated disease, cost almost nothing to produce and could be delivered in quantities controlled by consumers’ needs, the announcement of this find would send its shares rocking to the top of the stock market’.
If a mother can give this amazing food to her child, then she should be supported in every way possible to help her to achieve that. I wish more mothers could be made aware of the incredible properties in breastmilk and be fully informed of the health benefits of breastfeeding for both themselves and their infants before deciding whether to breastfeed or give formula milk.
When I had my first child in 2014, I wanted to breastfeed her but I knew relatively little about it as my mother never breastfed me, and her mother didn’t breastfeed her. I attended an NCT course with my husband and luckily he was very supportive and agreed that breastfeeding would be the best choice for our child, and most of the other women on the course wanted to breastfeed too. This turned out to be a huge help as their advice and support, coupled with the lactation consultant who visited my house a couple of times in the early weeks, gave me confidence that I was doing it ‘right’.
My daughter suffered really badly with reflux and I was given so much ‘advice’ about breastfeeding from well-meaning relatives and friends e.g. ‘breast milk is so runny, why not try formula’ or ‘formula will help her sleep through the night and ‘why don’t you just give her a bottle and then I can feed her’ (my mother!). If I hadn’t done my research I may well have given in, but I was so proud that I reached 9 months of breastfeeding before stopping when she lost interest in the breast. Knowing what I know now though, if my 6 month old does the same I am not giving up!
During my second pregnancy, I found out there are no longer lactation experts on hand to help mothers, and I felt sad for first time Mums or Mums who are struggling to breastfeed as I know how hard it can be at first and I’ve seen lots of friends give up as they’ve not had support, or because they’ve not been equipped with the right information. Having support is key to successful breastfeeding. Even those who have done it before can struggle with a different baby or with unforeseen medical issues. It can seem like a massive, daunting commitment to continue without support.
Since having my daughters, I’ve become a huge advocate of breastfeeding and believe passionately in its benefits for children, mothers and their families.
I started doing lots of reading and finding out information about breastfeeding and its many benefits. I decided to change my direction in life and realised that I want to work with women and babies. I feel that helping mums to get to grips with breastfeeding would be really rewarding and worthwhile. I’d absolutely love to help other mums in my local area and get the opportunity to improve their lives through supporting them at this often very difficult time. It’s all too easy to give up so I feel these groups are vital to encourage women to breastfeed and to give them the confidence to succeed.
Breastfeeding my girls has made me so proud. It’s the most wonderful thing to know you are giving your children so much for their futures but it’s also such precious bonding time. The closeness it affords and the comfort it provides the child is unbeatable. I’d love to help other women to achieve the same, in spite of different challenges they may face.
Breastfeeding to me means so much. Our first born has been, touch wood, so healthy in her first 2 and a half years of life. She’s never had antibiotics and only contracted 1 sickness bug when she started nursery. This compares to some of my friends babies who weren’t breastfed who are constantly sick or full of cold. I can only hope for the same for my 2nd child!
I really, passionately, believe that by breastfeeding my children, I have given them my all; I have given them the best possible start in life that I can as their mother. I have given them something no one else ever can. I have created the strongest, most unbreakable bonds with my girls. I have continued the connection with them that we had when they were inside the womb; remaining connected on the outside. I have given up myself in many ways, sacrificed my needs for theirs – given up nights out, sleep (so much sleep), time with other people, and much more – but it has all been worth every single moment of lost sleep, every single tear of frustration. I would never change it for anything. It is hard to keep going sometimes when people all around think they know best but I have remained strong in my knowledge that breastfeeding is what nature intended us to do for our infants and nature provides the most valuable substance in the world to us – for them, for free.
To enable other mothers to give this gift to their infants, to save them money, time (e.g. no bottles to sterilise), sleep (no needing to get up for bottles in the night), and to equip their babies with the strongest immune system, preventing them from contracting many childhood illnesses, and reducing the risk of many other illnesses in the future for both the mother and the baby, and reducing the costs to NHS – are all factors that motivate me to want to help mothers and families to breastfeed their children, and that’s why I am proud to be a Breastfeeding Peer Supporter.