I’ve learnt that we do the best we can with the tools we have! When a breastfeeding mother is empowered to trust her body, to believe her body is incredible and uniquely designed to offer tailor made nutrition to her baby, something beautiful has happened. She is equipped with the tools to breastfeed her baby – the mindfulness to trust her body. She may face hiccups along the way but she’ll have the innate strength to continue and reach out for support if needed.
Breastfeeding is the biological norm but it is not yet the social norm. When a mother chooses to breastfeed, every one of us has the responsibility to protect and support her. By doing so we’ve started a partnership with her.
Breastfeeding partnerships matter, a lot! Not just at home with a partner and family but also at work and socially. I was privileged recently to work with a South African company, assisting with compiling their progressive breastfeeding policy for new mothers returning to work wishing to continue to breastfeed/express. It’s times like this when everyone involved learns, and positively accepts the challenge to shift breastfeeding to become the social norm.
Although governments can encourage and protect breastfeeding, socially there is also a lot more tolerance and acceptance needed. I find that lack of support often comes from our social circles, so I encourage mothers to be kind and gentle in their response to the naysayers – it makes the breastfeeding journey more pleasant. Some will support you and some won’t. Those who choose not to, I’d encourage you not to let them get to you. It’s your baby and it’s your body, so just show them!
What I’ve learnt about the importance of partnerships to make breastfeeding work is that it may take some time but it will always be worth it!
My tips on how to become a breastfeeding partner:
- Start the breastfeeding conversation whilst your partner is pregnant, listen to her hopes and dreams for her breastfeeding journey
- Suggest attending a breastfeeding preparation class together – this can prepare you both for the physical and emotional changes that are coming
- It may mean you needing to reach out for breastfeeding support for your partner – do your homework and find out who offers this support in your area
- And remember your biggest role is to support – this may be getting up during night time feeds and making her a cup of tea, or it could be a simple shoulder massage reminding her that you on this journey together