Today’s blog post is written by Dr Miriam Walsh, a GP and a mum to two young children who lives in Bristol.
Miriam is the founder of Bump to Cradle, new antenatal courses in Bristol which are led by a team of experts who offer mums-to-be and their partners non-judgemental advice and support over 6 evening sessions.
All of the options available to women are covered including birth, pain relief, breast-feeding/bottle feeding and more.
Experts include a GP, a Consultant Anaesthetist, Midwife, Infant Feeding Specialist Midwife, Women’s Health Physiotherapist, Pregnancy and Postnatal Personal Trainer, Health Visitor, Paediatrician, Consultant Obstetrician and a Night Nanny!
I’ll let Miriam take over from here…One of Bump to Cradle’s sponsors, Medela, recently held an International Symposium on human milk and lactation.
There, Prof Diane Spatz, one of the world’s most influential breastfeeding experts made the point that ‘Yes, breastfeeding is natural, but it does not always come naturally.’
She talks about the need to support women more with breastfeeding and that the breastfeeding community should stop referring to breastfeeding success as if we talk about success we also are referring to failure.
Personally, I feel that there is enough pressure on women at this stage in life without feeling like a failure when they are struggling to breastfeed. Support needs to be increased. Full stop.
Global breastfeeding rates are low and this is most likely due to this lack of support when women need it. The UK has the worst breastfeeding rate in the world according to a study in the Lancet in 2016.
In the UK, 81% of mothers had tried breastfeeding at some point, but only 34% were breastfeeding at six months and 0.5% at 12 months. It seems crucial that we need to acknowledge the challenges and barriers that mums face.
Most women are aware of the benefits of breastfeeding but so many women don’t get the help that they need in the early weeks when it is often needed. Breastfeeding support groups are brilliant but not always easily accessible.
We as health professionals have a duty to talk truthfully about breastfeeding. It can be really hard and does not come naturally to a lot of women.
This needs to be talked about and the perfect perception that breastfeeding is ‘easy’ leads women to feel inadequate when they struggle with it.
At Bump to Cradle courses, we try to be as realistic and truthful as possible about the ups and the downs of becoming new parents as we believe this is vital in order for parents to feel confident and empowered.
We talk openly and without judgement about breastfeeding and formula feeding as we feel it is so important to discuss all the options.
Bump to Cradle has a team of local experts ranging from Midwives and GPs to Women’s Health Physios and Night Nannies to help parents to learn and feel supported. We also have an amazing in-house Lactation Consultant who runs a private practice – Mummy Matters in Bristol called Lizzie Brierley (firstname.lastname@example.org).