• Breastfeeding, Community and Support 03 November 2014 | View comments



    This month, after journeying through galactogogues, herbs, high days and holidays, we return to talking about me and you - about nursing mothers, babies, and children.

    Embarking on a new breastfeeding relationship as a new mother is exciting, enormous, individual and unique; every baby, too, is different, of course.
    For those of us who have been breastfeeding for ever, those first few fledgling weeks are dim distant past, but for many of us we  nevertheless think of the early weeks as the crucial time when we struggled to get things established, and worked to get things right; we were unsure, and needed help, reassurance, and support.
    In retrospect, things come down to a few general rules and tips for stress-free breastfeeding success.

    Firstly, plan ahead and make sure that you are supported. Know where to find help and reassurance, if you feel you need it.
    Have family and friends ensure that you have a full freezer of healthy meals that mean no-one has to spend time slaving in the kitchen - with a new baby in the house, there will be more pressing concerns, and hot meals ensure that morale is high. In addition, post-birth, every mother needs nutritious food to recover, recuperate, and provide essential calories.
    If you feel so moved, spend a few hours here and there in your final weeks of pregnancy preparing favourite meals for your freezer. Stock up on healthy snacks and old favourites so that you don't have to run out to the shops at a moments notice.
    Keep healthier take-away details by the phone.
    Explain to family and friends that you will need willing helpers on the housework front - enlist reinforcements keen to lend a hand with the vacuuming, dusting, laundry and dishes.
    Close friends with free time might wish to hang out, make tea, and watch the baby, so that you can catch forty winks.
    Make sure that family members are aware of how a breastfeeding relationship works - you feed the baby, and their job is to care for you. Partners can be hands on in every other way, and bond with baby by providing cuddles, baths, and changes of clothes.
    For second babies and beyond, a mother comes to realise that each child is different - while one has learned a lot already, don't be afraid to find yourself in new territory.

    More scientific evidence is turning up on the benefits of your placenta for after the birth. The ultimate in ecological mothering is provided by this amazing organ that has nurtured your baby or babies for up to nine months, so why not use it rather than waste it? - find a local  qualified IPEN practitioner to collect and encapsulate your placenta after the birth, and they will deliver it back in handy capsules a day or so later - you can even opt for a smoothie on the day! Some mothers have been said to find the restorative effect of placenta pills astounding.
    That extra fortitude, in wobbly moments, goes a long way. Placenta benefits are not fully understood, to date, but the many testaments stand to suggest mothers find a balance, find further emotional strength, and physical stamina, while ingesting placenta capsules in the first year after giving birth.

    Get to know the rhythm of your baby; eat, sleep, and dream your baby in the early days, and invest in a wrap-sling for skin-to-skin to help your breastfeeding relationship along.
    Not every baby takes to a sling in the same easy way, but most do.
    The first three months have been called the "fourth trimester". At this time, baby needs your closeness, to be responded to, and the magic of milk and touch; the happy hormone called oxytocin courses between mother and baby, keeping mama happy and ensures optimal neural development for babe.

    The early days can be stressful, but take time to enjoy your beautiful baby, and the experience of being a new mother.
    Have your partner wear your baby while you luxuriate in the tub, or get out for refreshing country walks. Don't forget to shop for treats, such as essential oils for new mothers, a facial refresher for those more sleepy days, or a cosy wrap just for the sofa or to encircle you both while out and about.

    Relax in the knowledge that there are breastfeeding professionals out there ready to help if you have concerns or worries.
    Find your local drop in, and get to know other new mothers who are experiencing similar practical and emotional changes in their lives - it is sometimes very helpful to hear how others are doing.
    La Leche League are amazing for knowledge and support, and meet in a location near you - get down to a meeting and relax with others while enjoying well-earned biscuits and tea.
    Don't forget the army of helpers called peer support, who work with The Breastfeeding Network - they have funding, now, to come out to visit you, and offer online and telephone support.
    Lactation Consultants work with the NHS and independently; qualified IBCLCs can identify and sort out most problems promptly, and put you on the path to success.
    LLL leaders will know the people who can help, and will be able to provide you with often crucial local information.

    The best phrase I ever heard in relation to breastfeeding was, "it takes a whole community to breastfeed a child", and this is absolutely true.
    Don't feel that you are alone, or that the weight of caring for your baby sits heavily upon your shoulders alone!
    Seek Support, Enlist Help, and know that you are doing fabulously.
    Breastfeeding gets much easier, and for most mothers becomes like falling off a log. On-demand feeding provides nurture and security, and develops into the most amazing parenting and bonding asset. As your confidence grows, you will find they breastfeeding is liberating and nature's simple solution to getting about without hassle. Your milk is ready and available wherever you are.

    The World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding to the age of two years, and beyond. Many mother now practise what is known as natural-term breastfeeding, or child-led weaning, which means that the child shows the way, and the parent follows the needs of the child, allowing them to pace breastfeeding for as long as they feel that they need it. Again, every child is different, with some eschewing the breast before two years, while others need the breast beyond five years.
    Some children are happy to feed through subsequent pregnancies, and then alongside their siblings, while others choose this time to wean.

    Breastfeeding journeys are amazing. Enjoy every Day!

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