Breastfeeding – the foundation of life 

By Philips Mother and Child

Being a mother is a life changing experience and the switch to caring for another human’s well-being while in the making for 9 months, really happens instantly. And the focus turns to making sure you give your little one the best possible care from the moment they are born with breastfeeding being a crucial part of this.

This year’s slogan for World Breastfeeding Week is the Foundation of Life – and it couldn’t be more fitting to promote the importance of breastfeeding. Many women struggle with breastfeeding and there is an air of taboo and sometimes even myths that surround breastfeeding that need to be dispelled if we are to promote breastfeeding as the foundation of lifelong good health for babies and mothers.

In addition to this, research shows that up to 60% of women who breastfeed stop earlier than they want to. The reasons for this are complex and often due to mothers misunderstanding the help and support healthcare professionals (HCPs) can offer. HCPs are in fact positioned to assist women in making informed decisions regarding the breastfeeding of their baby. Furthermore, studies show women who ask for advice or have direct access to healthcare professionals are more likely to continue to breastfeed for longer.

For years however, women have endured looks of judgement for breastfeeding in public or shied away from it because of what was said about it in general – be it from friends, colleagues and even family. This year, we hope to shed a bit of light on breastfeeding so that mothers can carry on with their journey without doubt or shame knowing that they can always ask for help or advice when they are unsure of anything related to breastfeeding.

A mother’s natural right

Breastfeeding is a convenient way of feeding your little one whether you are home or out and about, it is hygienic and the most natural and healthy way for your baby to feed. You can be proud of what you’re doing and be one of the growing number of mothers who are making breastfeeding more visible and acceptable. After all, it’s an essential part of your baby’s day.

What’s more, it’s getting easier to find somewhere a little more private to breastfeed in public. Many shopping centres, department stores, baby shops and supermarkets have special feeding rooms where you can breastfeed and change your baby’s nappy.

In most cases to get over a fear and gain confidence you need to practice at home first and the same applies to breastfeeding, try this without pillows and in different chairs. Try different types of clothing that can be easily unbuttoned, or a nursing top and when you’re ready to try breastfeeding in public, get yourself settled into a comfortable chair with good support. If you think you’re going to feel self-conscious, sit with your back to the majority of people in the restaurant or café or try to find a quieter place. A scarf or muslin cloth can help you feed more discreetly, too. Just slip it over any bare areas once your baby has latched on. 

It’s all about comfort and confidence

A good tip is to have a drink of water on hand – also, try and avoid sitting too near a heat source as it increases your body temperature. Here are some additional tips to help you nurse with comfort and confidence when you are not at home:

  • Make sure you’re dressed with breastfeeding options in mind – ensure your clothing allows you to lift it up, pull it to the side easily or has a hidden flap that gives your baby easy access and you more privacy.
  • It’s all about angles – before you leave the house watch the breastfeeding process in the mirror to see how much exposure you get and practice until you find an angle that works best.
  • Use a blanket or shawl to cover your shoulders so that it can drape over your baby’s head for more privacy.
  • Scout out places to nurse – somewhere quiet and comfortable. Also check for special nursing rooms before you need them. It’s important that both you and baby are calm – which makes for a much better breastfeeding experience for both of you.
  • It’s your right: while it is uncomfortable to get all the stares while breastfeeding in public, find comfort in knowing that you are not breaking the law. You have every right to breastfeed your little one in public anywhere you feel comfortable in.
  • Buy a nursing carrier – once your little one is able to hold their head up, consider buying a nursing carrier, allowing you to feed without being obvious to onlookers.

Breastfeeding is proven to provide many health benefits. In fact, benefits of breastfeeding extend well beyond basic nutrition so don’t let hearsay, myths and taboo stand in the way of laying a solid foundation of growth for your little one. Breastfeeding is the most sacred and precious bond a mother and child will have for the rest of their lives. As such, don’t focus on the noise – do what you know is best for you and your baby, and ensure they grow up big and strong. Start your journey now, lay the foundation you want your baby to grow and thrive on.

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