Sunday, February 12, 2012


Above: Tammy breastfeeding Izzie. Thanks to Tammy for allowing me to use this image for my post!

Anyone reading this blog so far will have gathered that I am pro-breastfeeding. Why wouldn't I be? There are so many reasons why breastfeeding is the best choice. What I am asking from you as the reader is that, from this point onwards, you either read with an open mind; read to re-affirm what you already know; or read with the possibility that your perceptions of breastfeeding may be positively changed. But to anyone who wants to "shout" and tell me that breastfeeding is wrong/disgusting etc etc - arguably, you are the ones who need to read this more than anyone else.

Ten advantages of breastfeeding:
1. It's FREE
2. It's ready-made, and just right for your baby. No mixing, no measuring, no warming up, and the milk changes to match your baby's dietary requirements
3. Breastmilk protects against ear, nose and throat infections, urine infection, gastro-enteritis (diarrhoea and vomiting). If all babies were breastfed exclusively for at least 3 months, the NHS would save £50 million a year on the treatment of gastroenteritis alone
4. Breastfeeding mums who come into contact with a viral illness will pass on a degree of immunity to her baby (which may prevent the baby from developing the same illness, or lesson the effects of it)
5. Breastfeeding can reduce the likelihood of developing allergic conditions, such as eczema, or asthma
6. Breastfed babies are less likely to be obese in later life
7. Breastfed babies are less likely to develop diabetes
8. Mums who breastfeed reduce their risk of developing breast cancer by 15% for each year they breast feed their baby and for each subsequent breastfed baby 
9. Mums who breastfeed reduce their risk of developing ovarian cancer
10. Breastfed babies are less likely to die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

My first main point is this: up until the mid 1800's, when powdered baby milk became available, we, as a human race had lived on breastmilk from birth and survived. In fact, it could be argued that breastmilk has helped to preserve the human race from the perspective of immunity and protection of illnesses and diseases, not just from a calorific, free-at-the-point-of-delivery perspective. This means that, in ancestral terms, you are here because your ancestors breastfed! 

Secondly, I really dislike the term "breastfeeding nazi". I find it quite offensive, because those who attach this label on to anyone who promotes breastfeeding are simply ignoring the huge amount of money that formula milk companies invest annually into promoting their own products, and the sneaky ways the companies use to compete with each other; and how they advocate formula over breastmilk; let alone the obscene profits they make at the expense of our society. In my mind, the execs at the top of the formula companies are equal to the greedy bankers who are tucking into our pockets. Just something to think about: when was the last time you watched an advert on TV which promoted only breastfeeding?
There are now tight controls on breastmilk substitute companies for the protection of babies all over the world, particularly in developing countries, where formula milk is ridiculously expensive, and dangerous if not prepared safely, which puts millions of babies at risk each year. Breastfeeding advocates aim to protect these lives, as well as the well-being and health of babies in all countries. So let me say here that I am a breastfeeding advocate for all the right reasons, not to impose my opinions or criticise those who choose to formula feed.

 In addition, those stories you may read in the newspapers about those poor mums who have been told to leave cafe's or restaurants because they are breastfeeding their baby - in most, if not all cases, discreetly - are in the minority. It makes a good story because it divides opinion. 
What society need to acknowledge, is that breastfeeding is normal. As soon as this happens, the "outraged onlooker/cafe owner told breastfeeding mum to leave their premises" stories will no longer be newsworthy, because nobody will be "offended" by it. Breastmilk substitutes are an alternative to human milk. 

When I had my daughter, I was determined to breastfeed. I was going to succeed at it because I am actually quite stubborn (but don't tell anyone I admit to that), and I wasn't going to allow myself to fail at something I had set my mind to. But I didn't get enough of the right support at the beginning, so I ended up having some problems. I had trouble with getting my daughter to attach properly, and ended up with mastitis, which - as anyone who has had it will know - was excruciatingly painful.
I was more prepared with my son, and also had a lot more help available from a breastfeeding support group - which, by the way, I recommend as an essential part of your maternity "toolkit" - find your nearest group when you're pregnant, go along to them and meet the mums, breastfeeding counsellors, and peer/mother supporters before you have your baby, to find out more about breastfeeding. Even better, go with a friend and make some more friends in the process!

Breastfeeding isn't always easy to get to grips with, especially at the beginning, but once you get the hang of it, it's such a rewarding experience. Getting help and support is essential to ease any difficulties you have. In an average breastfeeding group, it's highly likely that at least one mum, breastfeeding counsellor or peer supporter will have experienced at least one problem with breastfeeding, so they'll understand how you're feeling and will have some suggestions as to how to overcome your difficulty. 

If you're reading this and you're a mum who has not, for whatever reason, breastfed their baby, I am not here to judge, or criticise your decisions. If you tried, but gave up - well done for trying - even one breastfeed is an achievement. If you chose not to breastfeed, I don't want to criticise anyone for giving formula over breast milk. It's your baby, your choice, and I respect that. If you are breastfeeding but having some problems, or aren't sure if you're "doing it right", then read on.

The most important thing a mum who is finding it difficult to breast feed can do, is to seek help from someone who can help. Find your local breastfeeding group; talk to your midwife, health visitor or GP; or contact the national breastfeeding helpline on 0300 100 0212, or click here for more information. Most breastfeeding problems can be overcome with the right guidance and support. 

1 comment:

Kelly said...

That woman looks EXACTLY like the actress Amy Smart! I thought it was her until I saw you thanked someone named Tammy. She is just gorgeous!!

About Me

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I am a mum to two children, a registered nurse, a trainee breastfeeding counsellor, reiki practitioner, photographer, and generally into keeping things natural. Going back to the basics in life, respecting nature, the planet, and each other. Teaching this to my children and others who are interested. This blog comes from a good place, and is intended to give the reader an opportunity to look at things from a different perspective, and make an informed choice. I welcome constructive comments and would like it if you could share (acknowledging me as the source) and follow the blog. Many thanks!