Wednesday, 13 April 2011

First night alone with some breastfeeding debate!

G Kisby is out with work tonight so I am home alone (he is getting the train home 'later', whatever that might mean. Last time he practically ended up back in Manchester due to a 'falling asleep' incident on said train and that was before a baby so we'll see). Nothing new on the evening front but a bedtime alone is a new experience.

I am currently doing that thing where I am in bed and convinced that I can hear someone downstairs. Obviously I will now have to remain in bed (regardless of any need for nappy changes or toilet trips). Yes I am well aware that the dishwasher makes the same noises every night but once you've even considered the alternative every single minute sound becomes exaggerated. Keeping myself busy by writing a blog post.

I am also hiding from my newborn. That's right, she has started to stir and to try and keep her asleep I am sat in the dark with the laptop under the covers. What on earth has my life become?

Tonight I watched the BBC3 programme that was on recently re breastfeeding:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b010fq6q
It made good viewing. It was filmed by someone who struggled to do it and showed a number of real-life situations both good and bad. I think the overall message was to say that it isn't easy and you shouldn't feel guilty if you do turn to formula. I agree with both points and actually therefore feel pretty proud of myself for managing to keep it up. Apparently only 7% of babies are still being exclusively breastfed at 4 months old, that's a pretty depressing figure and suggests we are really getting something wrong in this country (these figures are very low compared to other countries breastfeeding rates).

Unsurprisingly I do have an opinion on how things could be better:
1. Support, although available from health professionals, needs to be there earlier and for longer. Once you have poor attachment and bleeding nipples you are already on a slippery slope (particularly if this means you have a hungry baby). Although I hated having to stay in hospital I do think I benefitted greatly from the extra time to practise breastfeeding before leaving.

2. There are still issues around 'celebrity' endorsement and whether it is seen as the 'done thing' (particularly with teenage pregnancies). I just don't see that many women breastfeeding when out, not sure if this is because there aren't many or that women don't feel comfortable doing it in public. Either way the more 'normal' it is to see, the less conscious you'd feel doing it.

3. And lastly an acceptance that it isn't right for everyone, it doesn't always work and pushing it to do so actually creates worse PR than supporting a move to formula when necessary.
Acknowledgement that it can be tough and peer support would both be useful (in a bid to promote at all costs the challenges can be downplayed which can set you up for a bit of a fall and you may be less likely to ask for help?)

Aside from the huge benefits, knowing how much I have also enjoyed breastfeeding Mabel I'd be really up for offering support to other women (particularly first timers) to help it work (or lessening the guilt if it doesn't). I'm not sure how, or maybe it is something for any future but the programme certainly got me thinking...

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