Why Breastfeeding Cafes Are Important
This weeks Breast Mates guest poster is Naomi.She has been patiently waiting to have her breastfeeding story shared so I’ll hand you over to her.
When I first fell pregnant with my daughter, E, now 22 months old, I knew I wanted to breastfeed, but didn’t think too deeply about it.I attended an NCT breastfeeding session and met the most amazing woman, who gave all us women (and men) in the group the confidence to give breastfeeding a go.I left my class knowing I wanted to biologically nurture my newborn baby, have as much skin to skin contact as possible and give her what I believed to be the best start in life, breast milk.I felt confident, I was sure there wouldn’t be too much trouble as breastfeeding is the most natural thing alongside childbirth that a woman can do.I found myself saying to friends who bottle fed their babies, that if breastfeeding doesn’t work, I’ll go to bottles and really felt a lot of pressure about breastfeeding and whether or not it was the right thing to do.
I knew it was for me. I had a relatively stress/complication free birth and was so happy when my beautiful daughter was handed to me for the first time.I tried to latch her on for her first feed with the help of the midwives, who told me to use the rugby ball position. This was not comfortable or easy for me.When I was taken to the ward, I kept trying to feed my baby and found it stressful and not easy at all like the dvd’s I had watched made it look. I asked for the help of a midwife who came, squeezed my boobs into funny shapes and told me I was doing fine.My first night in hospital was spent trying to calm my crying baby and feed her. A midwife came in and helped me to bed share, which helped both me and the baby sleep.I left hospital feeling positive, full of happy hormones and convinced that once I got home, things would get easier and easier.They didn’t. I found breastfeeding a real challenge and couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong. I felt embarrassed feeding in front of people, including the midwives and health visitors who came over during the first two weeks.When E latched on, it was painful. It was toe curling and I found myself on the phone to a breastfeeding counsellor saying that I wanted to breastfeed but I hate it, she was no help on the phone and I ended the conversation feeling worse than I did when I first called. The worst thing was the worry that my beautiful baby was going hungry. That I, her mother was not feeding her properly. This was not helped by a particular health visitor who insisted on weighing my baby weekly and then made a trip to my house especially to weigh her every couple of days. Whilst doing this, I was told to keep doing what I was doing, pain was normal (it isn’t), maybe try topping her up.
I finally got up the courage to visit my local Breastfeeding Cafe. I didn’t like feeding in public and was very nervous about the visit, but knew I needed some help.I saw my local breastfeeding counsellor that day and from that day it was a new beginning for me and my baby. She told me how to correct my attachment, which was poor, she watched an entire feed and gave me advice and the support I was longing for, in a non-threatening manner. I felt I was now able to breastfeed E successfully and that she wasn’t under weight despite what I was constantly being told.My local breastfeeding cafe became my life line and the women peer supporters were always there to lend an ear, talk things through and make sure you saw the BF counsellor if it was needed.As a result of the support I got there. I was offered the chance to become a peer supporter myself when my baby was 6 months old.I went through an 8 week course where I learnt invaluable information about breastfeeding and how to support women.I finally felt that I was able to give something back to the community who had helped me successfully breastfeed my baby for as long as she and I wanted to. This turned out to be until she was 16 and a half months old, when she self weaned on holiday as there were more exciting things than mummy around. I loved feeding my child and the contact and time we spent together was intoxicating.
I thoroughly enjoyed supporting other women and helping them to realise that they are not alone. I have since been able to offer friends support and information to help them feed successfully.The most important thing I tell women is to get themselves to a Breastfeeding cafe. Talk to other new mums, experienced mums and the counsellor if needed. These cafes have been set up to provide a safe and secure environment for the breastfeeding mum, as well as women thinking about breastfeeding.
On a side note, as a way to become confident and happy feeding in public, I was part of a mass feed with my NCT friends in a local high street cafe, where breastfeeding mums were welcome. This took the pressure off the individual and slowly I realised that people don’t pay much attention when your feeding and if they do have an issue, it’s their’s to deal with.
Don’t give up if you don’t want to. Peer pressure and misinformation can be very damaging.
Thank you Naomi for guest posting this week.I certainly recommend going to a breastfeeding cafe or group before you have your baby if you.If you would like to guest post for Breast Mates please contact me on the PLUS 2.4 fan page or on Twitter.