I’m a little late in joining this party, but today I want to talk a little about my adventures in breastfeeding, in honour of #WBW2015. The aim of World Breastfeeding Week is to raise awareness of the need for women to be supported at work if they are breastfeeding their babies. I totally understand this. Here in the UK there seems to be a real aversion to the idea of being in a room with a breastfeeding woman. Well, I say aversion. What I really mean is that the general attitude filtered down through our national media seems to portray breastfeeding as something to be ashamed of, or something that should remain hidden in the home.
Personally I have always been applauded and congratulated for breastfeeding my children. I am not one to hide away in a corner when my baby needs feeding, but I will be discreet for as long my child allows. My daughter is now 2, having celebrated her birthday last weekend, and so you can imagine that breastfeeding her in public is something of a challenge. She wriggles and fidgets, gets distracted easily, and recently caused a rather embarrassing baring of my breast in a family pizza restaurant in Manchester. Such is the life of a mother. We live with daily humiliation at the hands of our little darlings, and we simply laugh it off and move on to the next adventure.
Breastfeeding is a very personal activity, but it should never be something to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. Our children need to be fed, and our amazing human bodies provide the nourishment they need. I know that many women struggle to breastfeed their babies during the early days, and I believe that if those women received the correct help and support, they could overcome their challenges and breastfeed their babies. Unfortunately, our NHS offers something of a postcode lottery, and if you do not actively seek professional assistance or support to breastfeed, then you will be left to do the job with bottles of formula.
I was fortunate in that both my daughters found their way to the breast very easily. Breastfeeding was not so easy. Some days it works, some days it doesn’t. It hurts, it feels amazing, it cannot be described. There were days when my toes literally curled in aversion and discomfort as I fed my daughter. There were days when I gazed down at her perfect face and I lost myself in the sheer joy of feeding her. There are days now when I just do not want to feed my fidgeting, demanding, difficult child. In fact, I have now decided it is time to wean her properly, although I won’t go cold turkey. I cannot do that. Breastfeeding is a beautiful, natural, empowering process. It makes me feel proud, important, feminine, and it gives the best excuse to cuddle my baby and hold her close. Those memories are precious. Happy breastfeeding, fellow mothers!
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