Diaries Magazine

Happy Breastfeeding Awareness Week!

By Sjay235 @naturalmommainm
Did you know that this week is National Breastfeeding Awareness Week in the UK? I'd imagine not! I only found out when my breastfeeding group were taken out on Monday morning for coffee and scones, courtesy of our local Health and Social Trust, to try and promote breastfeeding in the community. So, in honor of BAW, I thought I'd share a little of my breastfeeding story with you.
Happy Breastfeeding Awareness Week!
I am a very proud breastfeeder. Breastfeeding is something which I was brought up to think of as totally normal - the only way to feed your baby. Because of this, as I got older and started contemplating the day when I may have my own family, there was never a single second when I questioned how I would feed my baby. Luckily, Simon's family are also breastfeeding advocates, and it was therefore not something we even discussed when I was pregnant. We just knew - I would breastfeed our baby.
It is, however, something I worried about during my entire pregnancy. I read book after book, online article after online article, and tried to learn as much as I could about breastfeeding during those nine months. Two of my favorite resources were the La Leche League book "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding", and the website Kellymom. (Don't be put off by the wordy book title, it's actual a great source of information on everything to do with breastfeeding!)
Reading about breastfeeding is tricky thing - like learning how to ride a horse from a book. You can know all the theory about how it SHOULD go, but that doesn't mean you can get on a horse and be a champion. What worried me the most were the number of stories of failure I read. Women whose nipples bled, who were in pain, whose babies couldn't latch on and so lost large amounts of weight, whose babies refused to latch on at all, of nipple agony. So, understandably, I had in my mind that I may fail at the one thing which was more important to me than anything else. I knew that, if this were the case, I would be devastated, knowing that I had failed in my motherly duties and was failing my baby. Of course, that's not true, but I knew that's how it would feel. I become even more worried as my due date came and went and my induction date loomed, knowing that it is more likely that breastfeeding may not get off to a good start after a labor which requires a lot of medical intervention. It is for this reason that I was adamant I wouldn't have an epidural (although I did put it out there during labour, but managed to get through without!).
Happy Breastfeeding Awareness Week!
Luckily, I needn't have worried. From the moment Isabelle Katie Jay appeared, she has been a champion feeder. I am so lucky that she just knew what she needed to do, and she got on with it. All of the things I had read prepared me for our first few days together. Although I was lucky and had very little pain, I did experience some around day 3/4. I had read to stock up on Lansinoh Nipple Cream, and I cannot recommend it highly enough to expectant mothers. I was literally half woman, half lanolin for the first week of Isabelle's life, and truly believe it helped us through those painful days. I also knew that Isabelle would eat a LOT. Little did I know she would take after her name sake, auntie Katie, and want to eat almost 24/7. Even my family were surprised at how much she ate, and there were days when she cluster fed all evening, and I thought I would never have a minute to myself again!
Happy Breastfeeding Awareness Week!
Now we are over those first few tough days, breastfeeding is a dream for us, and I am so thankful that I have been so lucky to have such a wonderful experience with Isabelle. Nursing is not just something Isabelle does for food, it's also a way she comforts herself, which means that if she is particularly upset or is having a bad day, quite often only the boob will do. Similarly, feeding her helps to comfort me if I have gotten upset because of her tears or tantrums. At the end of a feeding session we are both chilled out, and at least one of us is usually asleep!
One of the things I have been particularly proud of is my 'ability' to nurse in public. Not everyone is comfortable breastfeeding in public, and I totally understand that. I would say I have no shame...but to me there is nothing to be ashamed of in the slightest - I am proud to show the world how I have made those little chubby cheeks and chunky thighs ALL BY MYSELF! In fact, of all the things I have done in my life, breastfeeding Izzy is the thing I am most proud of.
The list of places I have fed Isabelle in the last 11 weeks grows all the time. From cafes and restaurants, to agricultural shows, to houses of friends and relatives and even during our church service!  And I have to say, I have been pleasantly surprised by people's response. I have had lots of smiles which I take as encouragement and as a seal of approval. Needless to say, these have all come from females! I don't think a man would dare even look over in case they were branded a pervert! One waiter in a restaurant actually turned and went the whole way round to the other side of the table once he realised what Isabelle and I were up to!
Happy Breastfeeding Awareness Week!
As I mentioned, I attend a local breastfeeding group each week. Everyone asks me "What do you do? Just sit around and breastfeed?" which makes me laugh. If the babies need fed, we feed. Other than that, we chat, we share horror stories of sleepless nights, we ponder what awaits us as our babies grow up, but mostly we are there to support one another through the amazing journey of breastfeeding and motherhood. I would recommend checking out a local breastfeeding group - even if you don't breastfeed! Nobody will judge you, and it's a great place to make new mommy friends.
So, since it's Breastfeeding Awareness Week, no matter how you would choose to feed your baby, why not show your support of breastfeeding mommas by giving them an encouraging smile if you see them out in public. Just remember - it's a fine line between an encouraging smile, and a creepy one...
Helpful links:
La Leche League UK
NHS Breastfeeding Info
The Breastfeeding Network
Breastfedbabies.org (Search for breastfeeding groups here)

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