It's World Breastfeeding Week! This is a week dedicated to encouraging and normalising Breastfeeding within the 140 plus countries that take part. It's about raising awareness that Breastfeeding mothers need a plethora of support from health care professionals, family, friends, the community and more.
It isn't about making people feel bad because they couldn't Breastfeed, in fact it's quite the opposite. It's about recognising that this is why Breastfeeding mothers need more support. So they can be helped when there are issues, so they can make informed choices and know there are people there to give them all the information and support that they need.
So why am I seeing a multitude of blog posts and negative opinions on why people don't approve of World Breastfeeding Week?
Some people are suggesting that World Breastfeeding Week is causing a divide between Breastfeeding and Formula Feeding mothers. Some people are questioning why there isn't a World Formula Feeding Week, or simply a World Feeding Week.
If you too feel this way then you simply don't get it.
You don't understand the purpose of what this week is about.
You're entitled to your opinions, of course you are. But with these negative opinions you are completely missing the whole point.
World Breastfeeding Week isn't about Breastfeeding mothers publicly displaying how wonderful they think they are. It isn't about making anyone feel bad because they chose not to, or weren't able to Breastfeed. It isn't about defining who you are as a mother.
It's about providing information, stories, and dispelling myths.
But those who think there is a divide, maybe you are right.
As a mother who has chosen to use formula you will never come across anyone telling you that you can't formula feed and you will have to stop for one reason or another, completely and immediately changing a feeding relationship you have built and established with your child. Unfortunately mothers who choose to Breastfeed do come across this. Quite often.
As a breastfeeding support worker I have come across a phenomenal amount of women who have been told just this. For reasons such as medication use, returning to work, low milk supply, and many more. All of which do not require ending a Breastfeeding journey, if they were only given the right information and the right support.
A friend of the family who was a teen mum shared her experiences with me recently. She was desperate to Breastfeed. Within the first few hours of giving birth she could not get her baby to latch on. Instead of being offered support she was told that it wasn't working and she was passed a bottle. With nobody there to advocate for her, and being low in confidence she assumed that she "couldn't Breastfeed" and therefore continued with formula, despite the choice she had made to Breastfeed when pregnant.
THIS is what World Breastfeeding Week is about to me.
It is about choice. And having those choices respected and supported.
If you were to ask any of my family, friends, or acquaintances they would assure you that I am not Breastfeeding militia. I am pro choice. Every mother has the right to choose how they feed their child. One specific way may not be right for all mothers.
There seems to be this opinion of mothers who Breastfeed floating about that we all disapprove of formula feeding mums. This may be true for some Breastfeeding mums, but let me assure you, the majority of us don't. What we do disapprove of is mothers who choose to Breastfeed and don't receive adequate support and information, leading them to have issues or having to stop before they are actually ready. And this is what we are trying to put a stop to with World Breastfeeding Week.
We are not forcing people to Breastfeed, making a divide between Breastfeeding and Formula Feeding, or judging mothers for the choices they make in regards to feeding. We are simply allowing people to hear our stories. The good, the bad, the humorous. We are saying to people that if they choose to Breastfeed there is support out there. We are reaching out to health professionals to provide more support so that women can continue to feed their children how they choose to for as long as possible.
How can you not support this?
It is all about choice. It always has been. It always will be.