National Breastfeeding Awareness Week

No photos today (hopefully tomorrow!)

I’m writing this post to celebrate UK National Breastfeeding Awareness Week. There have been many reports in the news about breastfeeding this week, some of which are shocking, such as the fact that breastfeeding rates in England have fallen for the first time in many years. Many attribute this to the Conservative coalition government cutting funding for infant feeding co-ordinators. We are lucky to live in Wales, under a Labour government, with devolved health boards.

Another startling statistic was that around 90% of women who stopped breastfeeding in the first 6-8 weeks did not want to stop. They stopped due to lack of support, be that professional support with latch or troubleshooting, or simply moral support from fellow breastfeeding mothers. In a culture where breastfeeding is not the ‘norm’ (in number at least), it can be daunting to continue breastfeeding when you have very little or no support from your family and social group. In fact, far from being ‘pressured’ and ‘intimidated’ into breastfeeding, most women feel immense social pressures from friends, family, strangers, media to formula feed.

I live in an economically deprived area with the lowest breastfeeding rates in Wales, but these rates are steadily increasing. We have infant feeding co-ordinators, midwives and health visitors who work tirelessly to help breastfeeding mothers. Our hospitals are UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) accredited due to their hard work. Step 10 of the BFI guide to successful breastfeeding is having a network if peer supporters in the community, and this is how I, and many other breastfeeding mums, spend some of my spare time. We provide help, in person and online, to mums who may be struggling with breastfeeding, and simply provide a social group of breastfeeding mums to counteract the anti-breastfeeding social message our culture emits.

This National Breastfeeding Week, I implore all breastfeeding mums to do just one small thing to help other breastfeeding mums. This could be just posting a breastfeeding photo on Facebook, or talking to a mum who is breastfeeding in public – put her at ease.

We need to be an active, dynamic breastfeeding community, our voices need to be heard, breastfeeding NEEDS to be normalised.

Happy breastfeeding!

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