To breastfeed or not to breastfeed… it’s an age old question that is often plagued by thoughts like ‘I hope I can’, ‘I really want it to work’, and for many, ‘what if it’s not for me’?
The anticipation and expectation of a successful breastfeeding partnership can be all-consuming. On the one hand, Instagram pics display beautiful bonds between mothers and babies, and on the other, friends and family try to warn you of the difficulty that lies ahead.
The reality is blurred somewhere in between, where a new mother’s will and desire to breastfeed is tangled up in love, pain and the repetitive voice in your head that ‘breast is best’ (so you must stick with it).
Latest research shows that 9 out of 10 women start out by breastfeeding their babies, but less than half of babies are fully breastfed at 4 months. From latching issues to milk supply and mastitis, this so-called beautiful bond between mother and baby can be fraught with difficulty.
And for many new Mums, the decision to continue with breastfeeding can become one of the biggest they’ll make in their short-lived life of being a parent.
This year, World Breastfeeding Awareness Week (Aug 1-7) aims to shine a light on the shared responsibilities associated with breastfeeding – especially that of fathers, partners and other carers – to ensure new Mums and bubs are supported in their journey.
But these types of weeks also have a way of infiltrating the social media feeds of new Mums, inadvertently piling on pressure to remain committed to the ‘breast is best’ cause.
So instead, we wanted to put something different in the social feeds of Australian Mums and remind them that breastfeeding is not a battle to be won or lost, nor must you feel forced to concede defeat if things aren’t going to plan.
Just like Mums, and just like babies, infant nutrition comes in many shapes and sizes. Finding the perfect combination for you and your baby is, believe it or not, entirely up to you. Not the mummy-blogger, great aunty or local shop assistant that claim to know your situation and have all the answers.
If you’re looking for credible support in finding what the perfect combo looks like for YOU, there is dedicated help available via the Australian Breastfeeding Association, who offer a 24/7 helpline for pregnancy, birth and beyond.
Contrary to their name, this wonderful team of dedicated (and experienced) volunteers support parents in their decision-making journey around breastfeeding, even if you’ve decided it’s not for you.
As this year’s global breastfeeding awareness theme suggests, the shared responsibility of breastfeeding is extremely important. But equally important is shared decision making. This means sharing the mental load, the digestion of information and resources and setting the best path ahead for every family.
To all the new Mums, Dads, Partners and Carers out there, this breastfeeding awareness week, choose to be victorious, not defeated when it comes to making the best infant nutrition decisions for you and your family.