Do we still need World Breastfeeding Week?

nbw 2 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn Mozambique, infant mortality was running at 30% when we first joined forces with Nema Foundation, our house charity. Promoting the value of breastfeeding is still so very valid in a culture where anything Western has cache; milk power included.

These awareness weeks were designed to promote a positive image and in some countries this is still incredibly valid. As a child, I remember hearing that babies were dying of starvation because their parents had been persuaded by advertising to put their babies on bottles for the best start in life. As we know, bottle feeding requires sterilising, clean water and ultimately a ready supply of formula milk. It’s tragic how often these parents would fall foul of one of these impossible to maintain requirements. When you live in a mud hut and have to walk to fetch your water from a river, walk to collect wood to cook and walk several hours to a shop, breastfeeding is without a doubt the very easiest and safest way to feed your little one. In many cases little lives are lost in the developing world because of an inability to nurse and there being no alternatives. It’s just too sad and we at JoJo have been trying to save little lives, and I’m so happy to say, we have been succeeding! Infant mortality in our area of Mozambique is now much reduced, but there is still a way to go.

However, in the UK I know plenty of healthy and happy bottle fed babies. It’s pretty rare that a pregnant woman does not have access to good information and the ability to make up her own mind. No mother is to blame if breastfeeding does not work for them. In my case it was absolute agony with my first son. I had no idea that anything could hurt so much, but I persevered and after about 6 weeks it started to get easier. But six weeks of painful feeding on sore, cracked nipples is a very long time and I would not have blamed anyone else who felt they had to give up. NOBODY TELLS YOU HOW HARD IT IS! Of course once I got the hang of it, my nipples healed up and my son became more and more greedy it was like second nature. I was lucky enough to nurse him till he was about 7 months old, juggling bottles of expressed milk and later, formula too.

Whether you breastfeed or not please spare a moment to think about women in other cultures who may be going through the same stage as you but in a very different situation. Their milk is the lifeline to their little ones and getting them a decent diet and access to clean water and hospital treatment is vital. To find out how you can help us to help mums and children in one of the poorest areas of the poorest countries in the world, please take a look at our website. There you will see the JoJo funded projects which include ambulances, school building, feeding, sanitation and health education. You can help contribute just by buying our gift vouchers for your friends, since 5% goes to funding Nema.

X Laura

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4 comments for “Do we still need World Breastfeeding Week?

  1. Isabel Jordan
    06/08/2016 at 6:35 pm

    We have serious chronic ill health problems and exploding cancers. Yes not all directly attributable to ff but some are. This plus the childhood illnesses like gastroenteritis and an nhs which is underfunded and under resourced. We are on the verge of something deeply unpleasant. Breastfeeding is really really important in the uk right now

  2. laura
    06/09/2016 at 10:56 am

    I think you have all missed the point of my (possibly badly composed) blog, but most of you who have flared up in anger have answered the question I posed at the top. The point of a blog is to get people to think about the issue, discuss it and come to a sensible conclusion, which I am delighted you have. This is a discussion … and if you read my text is very clearly in favour of breastfeeding;

    Of course we still need Breastfeeding Awareness Week, but we MUST NEVER vilify or insult those who cant breastfeed, for many reasons.

    In this country there are perfectly safe other options if you are NOT able to nurse your little one. As I clearly stated, despite having to work I found breastfeeding one of the most rewarding parts of parenthood and I would ALWAYS advocate if for health and every other reason. But I will not make those friends who could not nurse their little ones feel guilty – as parents we all feel guilty enough already!

    In rural Mozambique, if we need to encourage as much as possible and when breastfeeding is not possible we will help the parents through our charity.

    • Emma
      18/10/2016 at 7:56 am

      The problem is that FF is NOT perfectly safe in the UK, or other “developed” countries. Not breastfeeding is linked to many, many illnesses in both babies and mums. That is not vilifying anyone, it’s stating a medical fact.

      Women are not getting the support they need. Breastfeeding hurting for 6 weeks is not biologically normal, although you were amazing to keep going through that until, as you say, you cracked it. Even with the best help this can happen but with good help, by trained people (as in breastfeeding counsellors or laceration consultants, not most midwives or health visitors who rarely have the years of training that the former have) MOST women find that even after a tricky start, things improve fast. Not all, but most.

      Yes, we’re lucky to have the option of formula for women who can’t or don’t want to breastfeed. Choosing not to is an option that all breastfeeding counsellors will support, so we also support mums through weaning off the breast at any age. We support a mother’s choice and our focus is her and what she decides to do with her body. If she decides to breastfeed, we will do all we can to use our extensive skills and knowledge to support her.

      Access a breastfeeding counsellor via the ABM, LLL, BfN or NCT.

  3. Sarah Hubbard
    17/10/2016 at 10:59 pm

    I think the saddest part of this article is that women are not supported in their choices. Whatever they may be. If you were in pain for six weeks, you did not get the support you needed. I agree that many many women would/should have given up in those circumstances.
    In a developed country like the U.K. Women should have readily available support. World breastfeeding week should be about promoting and educating about the benefits of breastfeeding, but also about what is normal! Breastfeeding should be painless, milk supply should be measured in nappies, babies feed often, it’s normal for babies not to sleep a lot at first, milk supply is built by frequent feeding. Women should be genuinely supported by women, in the community and by HCPs. There shouldn’t be any question of pressure, but encouragement, support and championing should be prevalent.
    Where to go if you’re in pain or worried.
    Debunking myths.
    Positive gentle support.
    Those themes are what World Breastfeeding Week should encompass in the U.K. Support and love. No labelling, no pain.
    S x

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