As part of my new drive to write more posts generally and more about serious topics in particular, I'm going to have a crack at participating in some of the Breastfeeding Carnivals. The topic for January's breastfeeding carnival is to get together a list of links to useful posts on whatever breastfeeding topic we happen to feel passionately.
The topic I feel passionate about is the need to fill the information gap that prevents women from breastfeeding. The gap between the information women should ideally have about breastfeeding and what they do have. The gap between the things that women get told about breastfeeding, and the truth. The gap between the information that health care professionals should have and the information they do have. I want to see that gap filled in - to do what I can to ensure that a woman who wants to breastfeed is not held back by lack of information, or misinformation, on her part or the part of her healthcare team.
I picked these posts with the aim of helping to fill that gap. They aren't a comprehensive resource, but I hope they'll help to equip women who want to try breastfeeding (and anyone who wishes to support them) with information that may make the crucial difference between breastfeeding working and not working out. Or, as Best for Babes brilliantly put it, help to beat the booby traps.
The ideal time to read these posts is before you give birth, because knowing some of this stuff right from the very start can make a real difference to the ease of breastfeeding, and you are not likely to want to log onto your computer and read through this lot as the midwives deliver the afterbirth. However, I do hope several of them will also provide information, support, and encouragement for women in the early days. They are by no means a comprehensive list, but they are the posts that I could find that were informative and supportive and non-judgemental and readable. If you know of any that you think really should have made this list, do please add them in the comments!
Do you hate the whole idea of breastfeeding, but still feel maybe you ought to at least try it? A supportive, non-judgemental post on how to address your reservations and give it a shot.Prepare: The Learning Curve of Breastfeeding
Being prepared to meet difficulties, and knowing that they can be beaten, are the first two steps to overcoming them. This post encourages women on both grounds, and gives excellent initial advice. (The one part of this post that I was dubious about is the section on guided imagery. Not only is this not for everyone, but I know that focusing too hard on images of a perfect birth would not have been the right thing for me - that would only have made me feel I had an impossibly high standard to live up to. I much preferred seeing myself dealing with possible problems and overcoming them than having a fluffy glowing perfect experience. Horses for courses - take this bit (and others) if you find them helpful, and be willing to ignore anything that just isn't a good fit for you.)
Another 'preparation' post. The health care professionals you come into contact with in your labour and the early days of breastfeeding can help you enormously with breastfeeding - or, if they get it wrong, throw things off very badly for you. It's worth putting time and effort into finding the ones who'll be more likely to do the former. This post is written for women in the US health care system, so some of it will not apply in other countries - here in the UK, a woman will be more likely to have midwife-led care during her pregnancy and will have a GP and health visitor rather than a paediatrician for routine problems. But the advice to look into finding professionals who know enough about breastfeeding to help rather than hinder still stands. If you're in the UK, try to find midwives who are knowledgeable about breastfeeding, and ask at your GP practice about which doctor might have an interest in breastfeeding, and see whether you can have a chat with him or her about some of the points raised.
Great advice and encouragement for how to get things to go smoothly in the crucial early days.
A guest post on the marvellous 'Ask Moxie' problem page, addressing and busting some of the myths out there. Unfortunately, the blogger who posted this has since left the blogging scene and taken down her own blog, which means that the links in this post no longer work. Other than that, a great post.
A post by a lactation consultant on how to inform mothers-to-be and new mothers sensitively about breastfeeding and deal with their concerns. Thoughtful advice for health care professionals who want to know how to raise the subject, and makes a couple of excellent points for women who wish to breastfeed (yes, mixed feeding is an option if you're not sure about exclusive breastfeeding - if only more women realised it didn't have to be all or nothing!).
A delightful story about sticking up for the best way of doing things in the face of opposition.Helping A Baby With A Tongue Tie - Information For Parents
Included in memory of my own experience. A link about a small, easily-fixed problem that unfortunately hinders or destroys so many breastfeeding attempts purely because so few people know enough to recognise it. Edited to add: And, for those in the UK, here is a list of people who can snip your baby's tongue tie, and here is advice from your GP on how to refer you.Breastfeeding - Every Day Makes a Difference To Your Baby
Last and most definitely not least, a crucial point which we all end up losing sight of far too often - the importance of focusing on the important thing we're doing in giving breastmilk to babies, rather than beating ourselves up over the ways in which we feel we're falling short of what we should be doing. If you give your baby any amount of breastmilk for any period of time, then you've done something great for him or her. However long or short a time you manage, however much or little breastmilk you give your baby in that time - always, always remember to feel proud of yourself for managing to breastfeed. If you've tried to breastfeed and done what you could to make it work out, you've done something grand.
Other carnival posts are now going up! Check out these links:
Breastfeeding and Thrush (Nipple Yeast) from Angela at Breastfeeding 1-2-3
Increasing Milk Production from Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom
My favorite web resources for some breastfeeding concerns from Tanya on the Motherwear blog
Inspiration For A Nursing Mama's Soul from Paige at Baby Dust Diaries
Full -term breastfeeding posts and pages from Lauren at Hobo Mama