Monday, 27 June 2011

A Little Bit (Squirt?) of Lactivism

Our flashmob went really well. About 170 mamas turned up and nursed their little ones for around 20 minutes. The atmosphere was serene yet charged - I felt all tingly and part of something special :-)

Here are some breastfeeding flashmob photos

My first foray into 'lactivism' was sweet, exciting, and heartwarming. I really enjoyed seeing so many nursing mothers together and I felt proud of us all. Some mums had travelled quite a distance to be there for just twenty minutes.

Why did we do it? Read this post. There should be a video on YouTube in a week, I'll post the link when I have it.

Despite mine and Rose's best efforts I don't think the media picked up on it as much as we'd have liked. Although Melinda Messenger (who supported our campaign) was interviewed on Channel 5 about it - and I think Pregnancy & Birth magazine may run some info on it. Well, they asked for a photo so I'm hoping they will print it....

A friend invited me to a La Leche League meeting recently. La Leche is a really friendly bunch of women devoted to making breastfeeding good for you and your baby. The organisation started around fifty years ago with the aim of helping mothers to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, information and education.

Here are a couple of quotes from mums who have used the (free) service:

"It took me until I was pregnant with my sixth baby to discover La Leche League (no, I didn't know how to pronounce it then either!) I went along to a local group meeting and at last, here were people, who knew what they were talking about, who understood my desperate need to breastfeed the baby I was carrying. This time I succeeded and then went on to breastfeed baby number seven too"

"I am a lone mum of two. I breastfed my daughter, now four years old, for three weeks, giving up after a difficult pregnancy and delivery and a lack of support. I breastfed my son until two months ago when he was 13 months old. I thoroughly enjoyed it"

Good stuff. I think more women will try, or persevere with, breastfeeding if they get the right support. I found the first two weeks quite tricky (and sore) with Ella but had some great advice and hands-on help from breastfeeding counsellors and my Health Visitor and went on to feed her until she was 12 months.

I'd like to feed Lissy for longer - but I have no particular age in mind. I will stop when one of us doesn't want to do it any more (it will probably be me first!). I have a different view of 'extended' breastfeeding since I've been exposed to mothers nursing toddlers. A couple of my friends have done so, and I have seen a few mums at La Leche League and at the flashmob nurse infants older than 18 months.

I understand that some people may find that strange or uncomfortable, I admit I used to before I became more accustomed to the idea by seeing people doing it and understanding why they were doing it (instead of presuming it was the mother's inability to let her baby grow up!! I honestly used to think that).

In fact, it's a huge boost to a child's health to breastfeed to two years of age and beyond. Something the World Helath Organisation now recommends as a worldwide policy ie not just for developing countries. Here's some more info on the health benefits of extended breastfeeding.

But hey, if I don't make it to two years because I'm fed up of it then that's OK too. And if you're a confirmed formula feeder for whatever reason - choice, circumstance or having tried breastfeeding you now want the freedom to drink more wine and buy tops and dresses without having to consider how easily you can get your tits out of them - that's cool.

We mamas have got to do things our own way. My way may not be your way. But I will never apologise for being passionate about something and promoting something I believe in. Over the last few months of helping Rose organise the flashmob I've come to realise just how passionate I am that every woman in the UK (and beyond) should have the support and information she needs to give her baby the best start in life by breastfeeding her baby as long as she can.

Someone sent me a link to a breast versus formula article in The Ecologist. It takes a very firm stance, something I've not seen before as articles are usually very careful to take a 'breast is best but formula comes a close second' point of view. Here it is. What do you make of it?

Some of my best mates use formula exclusively and I in no way judge them - or you - for doing so. It's a fairly meaty article, I just want to know what you think...

Ferel free to share your thoughts on breastfeeding, bottle feeding, extended breastfeeding, flashmobbing etc too!

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