Why Breastfeeding Support Should Not Be Hidden

Twice in a month I have had to remove myself from something due to being told that I cannot publicise breastfeeding support, for fear of upsetting mothers who choose not to breastfeed.

Let us just have a think about this.

As a Lactation Consultant, I support ALL mothers. My role is to offer evidence based information around infant feeding, specialist support with breastfeeding concerns, along with compassion and empathy to families throughout their journey, regardless of their choices.  Anyone trained in breastfeeding support will tell you the same.

We are not here to force breastfeeding down your neck, pardon the pun. We are here to support you in your journey, whatever that may be. At times this includes supporting mothers to stop breastfeeding safely.

Let us remember, that whilst physiologically it is very rare for mothers not to be able to feed their baby, breastfeeding is not just a physical thing. It also requires a big bucket full of emotions. We have to take into account the emotional health of a mother also.

We also have to consider that mothers who are unaware of the support available to them, often reach a point where they cannot physically breastfeed their babies as they would have wished, perhaps due to pain, damaged nipples, reduced milk supply and a whole host of concerns that they deserve to know where they can access support for.

Breastfeeding is emotive.

But this is not a reason not to talk about it.

It is emotional for so many reasons.

It is emotional when it goes well and you feel a joy that is the indescribable feeling of nurturing your baby at the breast. It is emotional when you face challenges in your journey. It is emotional when you reach out for support. It is emotional when you receive support. It is emotional when you’ve been unable (or unaware) to get support. It is emotional when you’ve had no choice but to cease breastfeeding, against your wishes, because you were unable to access support before it all got too much, physically and/or emotionally.  It is emotional to make the decision to not breastfeed, for whatever reason this decision is made.

It is a huge disservice to not make mothers aware of the support available to them because of this. It is also rather an insult to suggest that mothers who don’t breastfeed have an issue with this being publicised to mothers who may be in desperate need of such support. I have never seen it suggested that we must not discuss formula feeding for fear of upsetting a breastfeeding mother.

All mothers need each other. All mothers must support each other. Breastfeeding mothers need to know where they can connect with each other, in a world that is often set against them, along with where they can access specialist support.

This is not a war on motherhood or a breast vs. bottle debate.

This is about women supporting women.

This is about compassion and empathy.

To suggest that a mother who does not breastfeed cannot have this towards another mother who does, is unfair and untrue.

For this reason, I implore you to tell all mothers of the support available to them, breastfeeding or otherwise. To not do this for a misguided fear of upsetting someone, could be making another mother’s journey so much harder than it needs to be.

She deserves to know.

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