Breastfeeding is a sensitive topic for so many mothers. And I want to open with a note that while we celebrate Breastfeeding Week this week, we are not diminishing the experience of mothers who choose to feed their children by other means. It is all nuanced and personal. As mothers, we are faced with so many choices and also criticism. The only way to get through motherhood is to trust your instincts and make choices that align with your values.
There is often anxiety from day dot when we wait for milk to come in.
Often it is a learned skill even though many of us might expect this to be natural.
When I reflect on my own experience, I realise that until I had my eldest and my friends started having children, I had only ever seen one woman breastfeed her baby. It was such a hidden practice in my culture and formula feeding seemed to be a norm. I saw baby formula advertisements on television more than a real-life woman breastfeeding her child growing up.
We often question whether we are producing enough milk to feed our babies. If they are fussy we wonder if they are hungry then we question whether we need to introduce formula or solids earlier than we otherwise might have.
My experience has overall been enjoyable and pleasant but not without the mastitis, blocked ducts, excruciating pain when a teething child gnaws down on my nipple or when it is stretched when they get distracted and pull their head in all sorts of directions and pumping has never been a friend. But the beauty of being able to feed my baby, holding them close to me has been priceless and not an experience I take for granted.
When I connect my breastfeeding journeys with each child to their births, (with my own little sample size of four), I feel that my feeding journey with my two middle children who were induced was much more difficult and shorter than that with my first and 4th who were born without intervention. It shows how much all of this is linked. We need to understand:
How WE were born and fed as babies affect our own gut health
Therefore how we birth and feed our babies affect theirs
Should need to be empowered with knowledge, choices and an understanding our rights and boundaries
Understanding the importance of nutrition during pre-conception, pregnancy and postpartum
How nutritional depletion from pregnancy and postpartum shows up in symptoms many women just put up with like brain fog, exhaustion, rage
Our innate blueprint which many of us have lost sight of with our modern way of living.
I am so passionate about it all but it is multi-layered, complex and nuanced just like motherhood. Our mission at Elan is to empower, educate and nourish mothers so we can support you in making the best choices for you and your family.
Note this has been my personal experience with breastfeeding and my own observations around it. I respect all mothers and their individual choices and my wish is that all of it is talked about rather than being hidden like how it was when I was growing up. We want the good, the bad the difficult and the joyous to all be shared.
U-Fhern, Founder of Elan House of Wellness.