I was reading a baby magazine this afternoon in the 10 short minutes that I had to myself (and blissful they were too.) I read something about breastfed babies and the recent introduction of new growth charts in the UK, which are an attempt to promote breastfeeding and discourage childhood obesity. These charts are said to provide more accurate measurements for breastfed babies as they tend to gain weight at a slower rate than bottle-fed babies. Whilst this was music to my ears, as I'd been made feel like I have been starving Baby Girl to death for the past 15 weeks because she's dropped to the 25th centile and only puts on between 4 and 7oz in a fortnight. It's perfectly normal!! I am relieved but then I think, 'Bloody hell, I should know this! I'm a Mum of 4 for Gods sake!'.
Let me tell you, being an 'experienced Mother' does not make you an expert. I'm still learning everyday and that IS OK! I don't need to try and be a supermum who automatically knows everything because I've 'done it before'. It's testimony to that fact that all pregnancies, labours, births, and babies are very different, and that's the way it should be.
Another thought that went through my head was that if we want to promote breastfeeding and encourage more new Mums to give it a go, then we REALLY need to make sure they have the relevant support when they need it. I know for a fact that I only successfully breastfed Little One because I had Midwives who came to my house every morning for the first two weeks and HELPED me. They told me that it was normal not to have milk come through until day 3 or 4 and that my baby was not going to starve and it was normal for my Baby to feed almost continuously to help establish a supply. It's normal for it to hurt at first, even with a great latch (and don't let anyone tell you otherwise!)
This time around was a completely different story. I received virtually no support from the hospital and despite them no longer supplying formula in an attempt to encourage more Mums to breastfeed, NO-ONE offered any advice or support with breastfeeding. I was the only Mum on the ward that was breastfeeding, and that's fine; I'm certainly not against bottle-feeding, I've got 2 children who thrived perfectly well on formula, but it did leave me wondering if any of them would have liked to breastfeed but were not given the opportunity to try. It's bloody hard work but absolutely worth it, I want to see new Mums who want to breastfeed get the support they deserve.
I have found online support indispensable; whether it's asking parents advice on getting poop out of baby clothes like I did yesterday on BabyHuddle or sharing thoughts with other parents with babies the same age on Twitter, it's the support and encouragement that all of us need and I am very grateful to have it.