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In celebration of world breastfeeding week 2021!

To celebrate world breastfeeding week i thought i would discuss my own experience, because i feel that during my pregnancy all i heard was the negatives and i've had the most amazing and positive experience so far, having exclusively breastfed for over 6 months now!

Breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world and there's a lot of social issues with it, which honestly i'm just not even going to go into because i don't think i'll ever come out of it, and this is supposed to be a positive post - ha! 

During my pregnancy i heard all the horror stories, milk not coming in.. sore nipples, mastitis etc but so far we have had zero issues apart from the now, ever so regular pulling away to be nosey whilst still clamped around my nipple! 

I honestly put our experience down to the support from my midwife team/local infant feeding team. At 37 weeks i started to harvest my colostrum having completed a zoom masterclass and then a virtual 1-1 afterwards. The lovely lady from my local infant feeding team was the biggest support, i even did a few 1-1 sessions with her after birth and she helped me master any issues i had with Otto right away. I would highly recommend speaking with your midwife teams to see if they have a local feeding support group as i think this education was key to our success. I also spent just over a day in hospital following our birth and asked for as much support as possible to ensure we had a good latch and that Otto was feeding well. 

Luckily Otto latched really quickly after birth and before we had even left the theatre (i'lll leave my birth story for another day!)

Breastfeeding straight after birth skin to skin

I always knew that I wanted to breastfeed, even with zero knowledge on it, but during my pregnancy so many people would say to me "well just hope that your milk comes in", i think a lot of people have a misconception of milk coming in, and i think this can maybe put people off if they are not educated on it. 

As part of my feeding sessions i was told that my tiny amounts of 'liquid gold' aka colostrum would be sufficient to feed my baby for the first few days, then my milk would come in.. if we are not educated on this and milks not spewing out of your nipples on day 1 then i can imagine you would panic and result in bottle feeding your baby because 'your milk didn't come in'. There should be more support out there for pregnancy and the early days after birth, but unfortunately it's just not happening in all areas and of course we hear it all the time about the NHS 'postcode lottery'. 

Did you know that less than 50% of babies under 6 months are breastfed globally (as reported by the World Health Organisation) and Unicef data shows that the UK has some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world, with eight out of ten women stopping breastfeeding before they wanted to. This is mostly due to lack of support from public services but also social support in local communities.

Public Health England's Commissioning Guidance for infant feeding services provides information for local support for breastfeeding

Of course fed is best, but there are SO many health benefits to breastfeeding and this is a week to celebrate it! As part of the World Breastfeeding week campaign this year WHO are discussing the environmental benefits too. Along with this, Unicef state that improving breastfeeding rates in the UK could save the NHS up to £50 million each year as it would cut the incidence of common childhood illnesses such as ear, chest and gut infections!

Having done quite a lot of my own research and experienced some feeding sessions, i thought it would be helpful to include below some links for both breast and bottle feeding.

One of the most important and relevant links during current pandemic times is actually WHO, having researched this myself for a friend WHO recommends that mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be encouraged to initiate or continue to breastfeed. "Mothers should be counselled that the benefits of breastfeeding substantially outweigh the potential risks for transmission"

https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/breastfeeding-and-covid-19

Responsive bottle feeding: 

https://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2019/04/Infant-formula-and-responsive-bottle-feeding.pdf

Unicef UK Breastfeeding:

https://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/about/breastfeeding-in-the-uk/

NHS Breastfeeding & Bottle Feeding:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/breastfeeding-and-bottle-feeding/breastfeeding/benefits/

 

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