Breastfeeding....... So where does one start?
Health benefits for both mother and baby? The cost? Contributes to bonding between mom and baby?
Maybe we should start at the emotion around breastfeeding? When do mothers decide how they will feed their babies? Whilst they are pregnant or maybe, “ I will see once my baby is born”? And what helps new moms make up their minds? Their mothers, family, their partners, society and the community?
Well, current research indicate that women decide on the method of feeding long before they conceive. Research also suggest that breastfeeding success can rely heavily on the support mothers receive from their partners. So, just as a thought, maybe we should introduce breastfeeding education to our youth (both male and female) in schools during Life Orientation lessons!
How many women have seen mothers breastfeed their babies? Do we ever see it in the movies or on TV? How do little girls feed their dolls?
All new moms are different in the way they were raised, their age, race and health. But we are all mammals, and mammals feed their young THEIR breast milk. They also feed their young when they demand it and as long as they baby wants to. Have you ever seen a gorilla feeding her baby with a clock next to her?
This leaves us with the question as to why, when a mom wants to breastfeed, so many fail?
Mothers do not fail to breastfeed. Our society fails to help them do so. The real blame lies with:
Health systems that pay lip service to the benefits of breastmilk, yet expel new mothers from hospital before they have even grasped the basics of this learned skill.
Communities who view breastfeeding as an intimate act to only be performed behind closed doors, promoting only the sensual role of breasts and denying their practical use.
A society who expects women to resume work after maternity leave while denying them access to workplace child care and other support for combining work and breastfeeding.
A medical system that has charted the growth of breastfed infants against the unnatural growth patterns of those fed artificially in past generations and implied failure to mothers whose babies did not measure up.
Unnecessary birth practices that interfere with the natural progression from womb to breast and strict infant regimes that deny babies access to the breast often enough for adequate nutrition.
A society which destroys body image by portraying the pubescent female form as that of a fully mature woman and displays malnourished celebrities as role models for adolescents and women of child-bearing age.
Every woman has the right to the support and information she needs to birth and breastfeed her baby as nature intended, without pressure from society or misinformation from health care practitioners.
All healthcare professionals that are involved in the care of pregnant and new mothers should have professional education in breastfeeding techniques and practical experience in helping mother during the early days and weeks of breastfeeding.
So, you CAN carry on being who you are, the multi tasking, gorgeous woman, marvellous mama, domestic goddess, sex kitten, business guru, girlie girl or whatever your thing is! … AND incorporate breastfeeding into your life. You alone can optimise your health and that of your most precious gorgeous bundle.