Updated: Aug 8, 2018
World Breastfeeding Week. Always a tricky one for me. My husband is a teacher and if we are going to have a holiday it generally has to be the first two weeks of the school holidays. This always clashes with two other very important events, my eldest son’s birthday and World Breastfeeding Week (WBW). Although this year I was away for three major events; the third being my eldest son’s Graduation. But hey we are in 2018 and the world is technologically a very small place with Instagram, Facebook, live streaming, Skype etc. etc. All didn’t go great though. That evil never ending dotted circle which = “Buffering” meant that I missed my son being handed his Degree by none other than Strictly Come Dancing Star, member of the Communards and now vicar of Finedon Northampton, Richard Coles. I missed my sons quip “I saw you on QI last night” then turning and winking at the audience. I missed 8 calls to my work mobile because the EE message to give me the instruction on how to activate Roaming came through on the final leg of my ferry journey back to England. My social media contract with my marketing guru Gemma from GEMMedia MK was due to run out at the end of July and I needed help keeping up with posts for #WBW2018, but needed to contact my business bank to ensure I could pay for another month’s social media management. They kept giving me the wrong numbers from France, apparently in this era of modern technology having a conversation with the right person is nigh on impossible if you want to contact a major high street bank. So, technology you let me down.
All was not lost GEMMedia was re-contracted in the nick of time and continued with her beautiful posts that have really given my Breastfeeding Hub social media an image. My daughter filmed my son’s moment and sent it to me, to which I sobbed like any mother would. But despite spending some time doing a bit of work between trips to French markets, the beach, the pool and the Bar I did not fully embrace and engage with the key elements of the WBW’s messages to inform, anchor, engage and galvanise, so here I am over half way through the week about to share my take on this.
I am going to share some insights and some resources the wonderful American IBCLC Marie Biancuzzo has shared during this week of all things breastfeeding, under the heading of the four pillars of #WBW2108.
The Breastfeeding Hub is built around informing mothers and others of the benefits of breastfeeding. Whether it be through the Breastfeeding Hub MK App, giving information about the Hows and Whys of breastfeeding or the Map of Breastfeeding Friendly Places, or the antenatal prep course, the back to work package or just simply through social media comments and messaging. To be informed is to be empowered and I hope I can empower women to make their own informed choices around feeding and nurturing their baby from conception and onwards through there breastfeeding journey. Marie Biancuzzo has put together some information around Breastmilk Expressing. It is geared to the US but if you can replace those elements with UK alternatives this is a useful tool https://mariebiancuzzo.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Hand-Expression-vs-Pump-Worksheet-v2.pdf
Anchor breastfeeding as the foundation of life. It is our duty as breastfeeding supporters to ensure mothers are supported through the challenges they may face. Breastfeeding isn’t always easy but it is the best health foundation a baby can receive. There is a whole lot of support out there and to ensure mothers are enabled to anchor this foundation for their baby all levels and methods of breastfeeding support should be able to communicate and collaborate. All those who may care for a breastfed baby or who may employ a breastfeeding mother need to understand how it all works to ensure the foundation does not falter. The Breastfeeding Hub offers bespoke packages for mothers and their employers to manage maternity leave and return to work periods. There are also great charities such as Maternity Action who have information on these topics https://www.maternityaction.org.uk/Here is a useful toolkit Marie Biancuzzo put together for mothers seeking childcare for their breastfed baby; what questions to ask and a feeding plan. Again, ignore the American policy references and replace with UK versions:
It is vital that all agencies engage with each other to encourage breastfeeding mums to engage with their services and inform them of their choices from voluntary services, to the NHS provision and private practice (see this link of Who’s Who in Breastfeeding http://lcgb.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Whos-Who-May-16.pdf) . Communication and engagement can use a myriad of channels and it is our job as breastfeeding supporters to highlight them and signpost. There are various community breastfeeding groups http://www.mkhospital.nhs.uk/images/comms/Maternity/BF_Support_Groups_MK_Feb_2018.pdf, facebook pages, health professionals, national NHS websites, national charities even support Bots (not keen on these myself), mobile Apps, Instagram pages, lay practitioners, specialist practitioners; both voluntary, NHS and private . There should be something out there for everyone. Be aware that some people call themselves specialists but have no formal higher level of breastfeeding training, so it can be advisable to ask. Unfortunately, some NHS providers are unable to inform women of private provision but there are great associations to find these practitioners such as the Lactation Consultant of Great Britain (LCGB) and the Association of Tongue Tie Practitioners (ATP).
This pillar promotes the “actions to advance breastfeeding as part of good nutrition, food security and poverty reduction”. We can all do our bit to enable this and although I do practice privately now I have ensured I offer a range of services that ensures all breastfeeding mums can have access to the Breastfeeding Hub in some form or another. So let’s get out there all year round to promote support and protect breastfeeding for those mothers and in their chosen journeys to breastfeed their baby/ies. Signpost, communicate and collaborate.