Following on from my blog post of yesterday regarding a few of the challenges I’ve come across during the course of my breastfeeding journey to date, I’ve been interested – and admittedly somewhat reassured – to relearn that indeed I’ve not been alone in my struggle. Experiences shared by hundreds of women on social media recount all manner of reasons for stopping breastfeeding: excruciating painfulness or reluctance of baby to feed in those precious early days; feeling nervous or uncomfortable feeding in public spaces; perceived milk supply issues, and returning to work are just a handful of the issues that kept cropping up during my #WBW2017 internet reading earlier today.
In this context, I was happy to see that the theme of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week is ‘Sustaining Breastfeeding Together.’ From my reading and discussions with friends, I know I am in good company when I say that breastfeeding – as with so many aspects of child-rearing – really does take, well, if not an entire village, at least a merry band of caring and committed pals and professionals who’ve got your back should anything should go belly (or boob) up.
I come today then, as promised, to share some social media love for the unsung heroes who really stepped up to the plate during my hour(s) of need, helping me to overcome all manner of logistical, personal, professional and systemic barriers in a bid to help me achieve my ultimate goal of giving my little ones the best possible start in life.
First up on the list has to be this funny fella, as pictured above. As a sometimes exhausted, slightly-on-the-grumpy-side Mum of two little ones (sleep deprivation does not always bring out my shiny best side, alas), I’ll admit I have been known, on occasion, to grumble the odd word or two (ahem) of discontentment… The key messages vary according to the day (and the quality of sleep acquired the night before), but generally relate to the numerous trials and tribulations of being a Mum, in a sort of “Why do you get to carry on with your normal life, whilst I am stuck here with a small human attached to me 24/7? Why, why whyyy!” Or at least so the record went in those initial, hazy newborn days, when round-the-clock feeds really were all the rage in our house.
On a good day, though, when I remove my drama queen tiara and try to look a bit more objectively at the situation, I can recognise that if it wasn’t for this kind, patient and sometimes downright wonderful hubby, papa and partner-in-crime, I probably wouldn’t have made it this far along in the breastfeeding journey at all. Taking on the lion’s share of housework and cooking; ensuring our cheeky chappy three-year old is occupied and content whilst Mum is busy with baby; scouring the pharmacies of Brussels city centre on a Sunday night in desperate search of a breast pump; nursing me through mastitis in rural Panama; hunting down supposed milk-enhancing herbal teas in Mexico; babysitting and hand-feeding expressed milk in London so that mama could catch up with old friends… All in all, these breasts, these babies and this man and I have had quite some adventures together, and thanks to his unwavering support, our breastfeeding journey has remained relatively stable and trouble-free. In no uncertain terms, then, here’s sending a big ol’ shout-out to all the supportive Dads and life partners out there who really do, when the going gets tough, buoy us mothers up and keep us afloat. Hip hip hooray for #SustainingBreastfeedingTogether and #workingtogether!
What about you, ladies? Have there been any unsung heroes in your support network who’ve gone that extra mile to support your breastfeeding journey? I’d love to hear about your experiences!
Editor’s note: As I write this, I am acutely aware that the ‘challenges’ I refer to (spoiler alert – sleep deprivation may be a recurring theme on this blog), are entirely, unabashedly first-world problems. I do after all live in Mexico, where breastfeeding women sometimes come across obstacles of much greater significance than feeling a bit tired and cranky (more on that soon). That said, as highlighted by World Vision’s promotion of the #NoOneToldMe message on Twitter, via which women from around the world – regardless of nationality, religion, ethnicity or economic status – are sharing the hardships they faced in their determination to breastfeed their children, I’m once again reminded that despite our differences, us humans (and women in particular), stand stronger and taller when we stand in solidarity. If you agree with this sentiment and want to hear from countless inspiring women doing just that around the world, come over and join the #WBW2017 chat on social media!