For those in the know (breastfeeding mothers), it’s ‘World Breastfeeding Week‘. I’ve been invited to a ‘Latch On’ at 10am (for a 10.30am ‘latch on’) this Friday 3 August (if you’re keen visit ‘Big Latch on 2012‘ for a venue near you!).
What is a ‘latch on’ you ask?
It’s where mothers gather in large numbers to breastfeed their child, or children – yes tandem breastfeeding is for real – and all kudos to women with twins – or siblings close in age – doing it.
As much as I support breastfeeding whole-heartedely (I’ve been breastfeeding for 9 years with only a 20 week break), I don’t feel that I’ll make it to a ‘latch on’.
Well, my third daughter is two and a half nearly and breastfeeding is now a very private affair.
I rarely feed in public (and my daughter rarely asks), though I do feed my daughter without a blink of the eye in our own home (though I do feed as discreetly as possible when we have visitors). It’s not that I’m uncomfortable with the idea – it’s just my daughter will probably find walking into a busy room of strangers a little overwhelming.
However, I do wish to promote the idea and encourage new Mums to head along. It was those early weeks with my first newborn that were really ‘make or break’ as to how breastfeeding was going to work out for me (and my children) long-term.
I had a nightmare experience first time around. The first six weeks were agony (cracked, bleeding nipples – you get the picture).
My first born had a short tongue and instead of suckling my nipple to the back of her mouth it was getting sandpapered on the roof of her mouth. I was in tears every time she latched on and she was in tears as my milk supply was dwindling and needing prolonged feeding sessions of three quarters of an hour (on one side alone!) to up the supply. OUCH! Anyway, it’s a whole blog post in itself – but the short story is I was lucky – yes, really – I had an amazing midwife, a super supportive hubbie and was referred to a lactation consultant (I never knew such a career existed at the time!). These three people were my three musketeers. They made the difference to me persevering and not quitting (not that there’s anything wrong with alternative feeding methods – thank goodness they are available, but I was just grateful I had every opportunity to try and make breastfeeding work.
After my initially raw introduction to breastfeeding I bonded in a way I didn’t think possible with my child (a hoped for home-birth turned into a long labour with a posterior baby and failure to progress… ending with an emergency c-section). I went on to breastfeed her till she was just over two years of age (when she kissed me and said ‘Bye bye Baaboo’ and never asked again!). I was 20 weeks pregnant with my second child at the time (but was prepared for the possibility of feeding a baby and toddler – got the book, ‘Adventures in Tandem Nursing‘ and everything – but was kind of relieved that it didn’t eventuate).
My whole adventures in breastfeeding, from the very beginning, have been down to feeling supported by family, friends, fellow mothers and the health care I received in New Zealand.
Events like the ‘Big Latch On’ make a difference: They empower women to feel comfortable with this natural time in their parenting journey and meet other women to share the highs and lows with.
So here’s to World Breastfeeding Week & the ‘Big Latch On’ (I’ll be there in spirit!). xx