This year’s breastfeeding week runs from 1-7 October nationwide with a bunch of events taking place around the country. The HSE have a calendar here if you’d like to check it out.
I’d love to get my hands on their communications plan and give it a good trim and a polish because it’s all over the place but at least they’re trying I suppose! For starters, they’d definitely benefit from a dedicated logo for people to use on promotional material. Sure I’d stick it on the blog right here and now to help them out if I could. This year’s theme is Good Health Begins with Breastfeeding which is genuinely lovely but it could benefit from a little paragraph to give it context – “Good Health Begins with Breastfeeding because…”. I’m picking holes, I know, but it’s well established that Ireland would benefit from greatly improving our breastfeeding rates and a clever, creative, well targeted PR campaign could go some way towards raising awareness and planting the seed. It doesn’t even need a lot of money, just a good, clear idea and four hours with a graphic designer. Lads, I’d happily do it for you next year…
In honour of breastfeeding week, I thought I might share a few tips for women who might be embarking on their breastfeeding journey some time soon. I remember myself when I was reaching the end of my pregnancy that I had great intentions of getting in as much breastfeeding preparation as possible but whenever I turned my mind to it I found it so hard to concentrate on taking in the information and seeing past the fast approaching monumental event that is actually having the baby. I had a few books where I flicked through the illustrations and skimmed over descriptions of various problems that might arise but because I had no point of reference they were meaningless to me. I also attended a fairly rubbish seminar on breastfeeding in my maternity hospital where the tutor spent most of the hour passive aggressively bickering with a second time mum who had trouble breastfeeding her first child and talking about something called “cluster feeding” as if the dogs in the street knew what it was. They’re probably not all like that but I think I definitely struck out that day.
I was very lucky in that both myself and Pip took to breastfeeding quite easily from the beginning but I did have a few psychological bumps along the road, mainly due to some fairly shoddy misinformed advice from my public health nurse. So when I think about it I really just have one tip, with an explanation and a few reasons why attached.
Here it is:
“Before you have your baby, get yourself the names and telephone numbers of the right people with the right information who can help you right away.”
- Have the number of a local lactation consultant in your phone and ready to go so that if you’re having problems in the first few days, they can be with you in a few short hours to address any problems straight away. A lot of private health insurance plans cover the cost of a lactation consultant as an outpatient expense these days but even if they don’t, it’s €60-€80 very well spent
- Get in touch with or have the contact numbers of your local La Leche League or Cuidiu group. If you fancy it, go along to a meeting when you’re still pregnant. If nothing else, it’s lovely to chat with other new mums and it’s great to see lots of women breastfeeding especially if it’s not something you’ve had a lot of exposure to before. I’ve written before about the bad rep that the La Leche League have but it’s worth repeating again I think: don’t believe what you might have heard – the La Leche League offer incredible advice and support to breastfeeding mothers. They have forgotten more about breastfeeding than most public health nurses know.
- While I’m talking about public health nurses, a word of warning: please don’t rely solely on the advice of your public health nurse for breastfeeding advice. Please seek out the advice of a breastfeeding expert. I know you probably think I’m being terribly hard on the poor PHNs but I’ve yet to hear a good news story about a positive breastfeeding experience a new mother has had with a public health nurse and I have heard an awful lot of bad ones from heartbroken mothers. Public health nurses have an important role in the community but 20 hours training does not an expert make and a lot of damage can be done with a little knowledge.
- Bookmark www.kellymom.com on your computer. It is without doubt the best breastfeeding information resource on the Internet. Think of any breastfeeding question and Kellymom has it covered. While you’re at it, read my post about baby’s second night. If I had known about Kellymom when my baby was 24 hours old, at lot of stress, worry and panic would have been avoided.
That’s it really! If you’re thinking about breastfeeding your baby I can only tell you that I found it one of the most wonderful, life affirming, rewarding experiences of my life. I’m not saying it’s easy but it is amazing. I wish you every success.
Happy national breastfeeding week!