the first week of august marks breastfeeding awareness week, where it aims to promote, support, protect and normalize breastfeeding for the common good. WABA (world alliance for breastfeeding action) works closely with many organisations and individuals in doing so.
according to WHO (world health organisation) if breastfeeding were scaled up to near universal levels, about 820 000 child lives would be saved every year. Globally, only 40% of infants under six months of age are exclusively breastfed.
Human milk boosts your babies immune system helping baby to fight all kinds of infections. some including respiratory tract infections, common colds and flu, ear infection to name a few. it can also reduce your baby’s risk of disease later in life. breast milk changes but never loses nutritional value. as your child ages, your milk will become more rich and include more antibodies.
my breastfeeding journey started a little under six months ago. to tell you the truth it was hard, it was tiring, it was frustrating , it was painful and it felt like a second job. at the start of my journey those were all the feelings i had and nothing could have really prepare me for the real deal. however, now words like bonding, nurturing, rewarding and thankful all comes to mind when i think of breastfeeding.
i can even say breastfeeding was harder for me than the actual birth. there was pain, of course, but i was so prepared i actually expected more. (lucky me i guess)
not too long ago i wrote an appreciation post on a breastfeeding group i joined. i am so thankful for all the questions, answers, advice and encouragement from fellow breastfeeding moms and leaders on the group and grateful for them for keeping me company through the wee hours of the morning when baby needs to feed and the world is asleep. i highly recommend that any new mom or doubting mom join a local support group.
a few days after my baby was born she developed jaundice and it set some deep disappointment in me. i was told it was actually quite common in newborns and the more they feed the quicker it gets passed through and released from their system. so with the help and support i quickly equipped myself with some knowledge and absorbed as much information as i could to help myself and my baby. the first week was hard and i soon made the decision to see a lactation consultant at my local hospital and it was the best R50 i had ever spent. EVER! it totally saved my life and the decision to breastfeed was well supported and gave me the confidence to continue. please, if you are a new mom or deciding to re-lactate, or even if you just need advice or to check if your latch is correct make an appointment to see one. i thought my baby’s latch was correct and it was just sore in the beginning like everyone says, but turns out she wasn’t emptying the breast and that could end up disastrous with milk hardening or block ducts or even worst it could have ended up with mastitis. so do yourself a favour and consult with a professional. i will add links at the end.
as a first time mom i equipped myself with everything i thought i needed. i had the feeding chair, the feeding pillow, the feeding bra’s the feeding tops and burp cloths. heck, two months down the line most of these items i realized were on the “nice to haves” list but i have to admit it is quite helpful if it is your first time although now, nearly six months down i even mastered the art of feeding in my carrier.
breastfeeding can be an overwhelming concept for a first time mom, but it is the absolute best time you will have just to find a quiet comfortable spot and just hold your baby while she feeds. nursing gives you a natural high. it releases oxytocin; the love hormone in both mom and baby which helps bonding, stress relief and makes you relax.
i now prioritize feeding my baby and not feel obligated to do so or to see it as a task that needs to get done. in the beginning i would make sure i had my cellphone in hand to risk getting bored before i would sit to nurse. now, i leave everything and just have my baby in my arms and hold tiny feet and fingers in my hands and not a cellphone. and this article really put it into perspective quite accurately and i am so glad i did this early on.
breastfeeding is an incredibly rewarding journey that i am so proud to be part of and support. it just takes dedication, time and perseverance. i do not have a breastfeeding goal in mind and take it at it comes, i just cherish this time that i have with my baby and that i can provide for her as nature intended. also, have you noticed that a breast fed baby is a very impatient baby?
i know it is challenging and we try our best, we need to remember that everyone walks a different path, however how naturally breastfeeding should be, it is difficult and you need a lot of dedication and determination to persevere. so for all new moms starting this journey let this week encourage you and give you the confidence and encouragement to know that the decision you have made is the best for you and your baby. you are amazing, your body is amazing.
i do hope that soon we can nurse our babies when we want, where we want, how we want and for as long as we want without having to justify or defend ourselves because for nine months we had carried and protected those precious gifts it is inevitable that all we want is just the very best for them.
side note how incredibly cute are these tree of life art showing up on feeds recently. i absolutely love it. it is from the PicsArt app in the play store.
be sure to check out the resources that i frequent for any queries i had to help me with my journey.