Gentle Parenting

Tell me again, that we don’t need National Breastfeeding Celebration Week! 

“Yesterday, my son was struggling to breathe efficiently. His heart rate was very high. Time was wasted with questions about his sleep, and I got asked if he eats “real food”!”

It’s National Breastfeeding Celebration Week here in the U.K; a week I’ve heard referred to as  uneccesary and ridiculous. I’ve heard some say that it should be a “fed is best” week and that we should celebrate all Mothers regardless of how they feed. Of course we should celebrate all Mothers, Mothers are awesome!

However; this is a time to celebrate those who chose too, at times to expose themselves to ridicule and judgment over using breasts as they were intended. Because let’s face it; regardless of how long you nurse for, or how often you nurse I think it’s fair to expect that you’ll likely have at least have one negative comment! It may just be someone asking if you’re not “done” yet, albeit with good intentions. It may be someone who has a completely twisted view of the female breast executing their self enforced right to spread negativity over your choice to breastfeed. 

Either way, the second best thing about being a breastfeeding Mum (first of course, being a breastfeeding Mum) is the incredible support you can find in other breastfeeding Mothers! There is love and support beyond what I used to believe possible! I’ve come to rely heavily on my support network as we have progressed in our nursing journey! With comments of dismay commonly received during our journey this support has proven priceless, and somehow it has increased in force as my son has grown older. The arrival of my son’s teeth caused confusion for many! Surely, that would put me off? And frankly, yes it did! It did however  not change my son’s feelings!

Breastfeeding isn’t selfish, it’s biological. You can’t switch of mothering, likewise I can’t switch of my son’s need for a biological process which is of benefit to him. I chose to be a mother and as such I will attempt to do what’s best for my children, that to me, is crucial.

Breastfeeding hasn’t come without difficulties; infact it’s been an incredibly challenging journey for us. Issues with inverted nipples lead to the inability to breastfeed my first child (shared in previous post) but it also gave me a determination beyond what I thought I mastered, to breastfeed my second child.

Early on it was suggested I formula fed my son so I could give myself a “break”. This wasn’t an option for us! I worked so incredibly hard to breastfeed and I had decided what road we were going to go down. I felt secure in that!

Yet my sense of security and conviction wasn’t a deterrent for ignorance.

Some of the things I’ve been told as a reason to stop breastfeeding are shocking. Soon after my son’s first birthday a family member informed me that my son would be psychologically damaged by being breastfed past the year. This lady spends her day to day life working in a women’s clinic…So much work is still needed in normalising breastfeeding.

Plenty of people do believe that they somehow have the right to comment negatively on a process which is biologically correct, and deem that this process isn’t a necessity; even health professionals.
My son is now at the stage where he only feeds at bedtime and early morning if all is well. If he is sick this is increased and it’s is a fabulous way for me to make sure that he keeps fluids up and has access to all those amazing antibodies. Unfortunately my son has asthma and as a result, the smallest cold seem to lead to a GP visit or hospital admission. I’ve been truly lucky, it seems, that Ive mainly encountered supportive staff and friendly Mums; when in hospital and breastfeeding has never been considered an issue.

As we have been through the admission process several times now the it is becoming standard. I know the questions by heart and I answer swiftly.

Yesterday my son got sick, really quickly. He went from “ok” with a cough; to struggling to breathe with a ferocious temperature, in 40 minutes. The result was of course a hospital visit. He was being sick and couldn’t keep the pain relief down so I decided to offer him my breast, as I’ve done many times before. As I was feeding him, and stroking his little face which looked so strained, a nurse opened the curtain, and asked if she was ok to keep it open to help her see. I of course agreed! I explained that after the length of time we’ve been nursing, I don’t mind! A look of absolute and pure horror spread over her face

“Oh I didn’t realise you were doing that” 

She announced that she would be back shortly, shut the curtain and walked as fast as she could, without actually running! It looked a bit like one of those races where people compete in speed walking.
You’d think she’d seen something incredibly disturbing- not just a breast. Upon return she was clearly relieved to see that although next to my breast, my son was asleep in my arms and no longer nursing.

She started asking the usual questions and I entered robot mode answering her swiftly but then I got confused. These weren’t the usual questions!?

“Does he eat real food?”

Although, not sure where she was going with this line of questioning, I queried if she meant when he was unwell to which she replied “no, in general!”

My son is a 3 year old, active boy. He eats more than I do.

This line of questioning progressed on to “does he sleep through the night” again I asked if she meant when ill, as clearly it’s very different when your body is full of a infection and again I was asked “in general?”.
It got more confusing by the minute with questions about my son’s ability to “self settle” and  if breastfeeding affected his language development negatively, and creating cause for concern. In fact she wondered if he was reaching his developmental milestones as he was still nursing. I’m not going to spend time repeating my rather long reply here, because frankly it is irrelevant. However, I did ask to speak to someone about a official complaint. 

Breastfeeding supports language development and the optional development of of all milestones. Breastfeeding aids sleep and offers comfort. Breastfeeding does not stop a child from consuming solid food.

If this is the uneducated ideas of a paediatric nurse, in a Baby Friendly hospital, can anyone actually argue that there isn’t a need to normalise breastfeeding and further breastfeeding education?
I’ve formula fed, and I’ve breastfed. I am in no way saying that bottle feeding isn’t hard! It is. However, breastfeeding come with so many challenges and on top of those, criticism can be frequent and support minimal- if wee need to spend a few weeks a year felling like we have a community, feeling that together we are doing something about the normalisation of breastfeeding, let us! 

Yesterday, my son was struggling to breathe efficiently. His heart rate was very high. Time was wasted with questions about his sleep, and I got asked if he eats “real food”- so please, do tell me again that we don’t need National Breastfeeding Celebration Week!

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