I love my work, I really do. I love supporting families.But in an ideal world, my job wouldn’t exist, or I’d only need be involved in really complex cases, or just to basically be a really good cheerleader! So much of the work I do is correcting issues that are preventable.
That could be avoided if someone had helped sooner. If mum hadn’t been placated with empty slogans. If she’d been heard. If she’d been seen. If she’d been educated by a HCP who was brave enough to have difficult, evidence based conversations with her. If she’d not been assaulted by dodgy, unethical, inaccurate marketing. If she’d not been told that breastfeeding is really painful until your nipples “toughen up”. If someone had picked up on the suboptimal latch. If the person checking for a lingual frenulum had been adequately qualified to do so. If the GP hadn’t dismissed the symptoms of allergy. If someone hadn’t said, just use a bit of formula. If she’d had open conversation about safe medications to take when breastfeeding. And so on. And so on.
Support begins with education in schools from EYFS right through to GCSE. With better antenatal care. Without industry bombarding everyone with complete bollocks about their products. With HCPs getting more than adequate training and funding across the board. With airtight referral systems in place. With more postnatal care. With fully funded postnatal breastfeeding support and social groups.
I love supporting breastfeeding. I love volunteering at BFFs and for BFYM. I love watching women succeed and smash their goals – none of that will ever change. But peer support is the bare minimum. And it’s exhausting. And for most of us… voluntary work. It’s absolutely appalling that something that carries so much value to women and society falls almost entirely to the unpaid labour of women.
We are all being let down.
We need more than just being able to support one another.
Read Professor Amy Brown’s article on supporting breastfeeding HERE.