‘How does breastfeeding work – what do we need to know?’
the wild-eyed dad asked, checking his list at the baby show. Well, a few things…. Here’s some of them. I hope these pages spark more questions about how breastfeeding works and help you find the information you need.
There are many great resources on the internet: I link to some for further reading. Here, I aim to fill in some gaps and answer questions I hear parents ask in my daily work of helping mothers and babies enjoy breastfeeding.
I refer to ‘partner’ in these pages: this means the lover of the mother or pregnant person. A birth partner may be another family member or friend.
I call the baby ‘he’ or ‘she’ at different times, just for variation.
I address the mother as ‘you’ and talk about women and mothers because I want to recognise and validate the important work women do as mothers. If you identify as queer or trans and are carrying a baby, you are of course doing the same important work. I am learning about trans-gender parenting – I’m in favour of love and of nurturing babies however possible.
My aim here is to give you information so you can understand how breastfeeding works. Then you can evaluate any advice you’re given:
- Does it make sense?
- Does it fit with what you know already?
- Does it feel right to you?
We’ve lost so much of our breastfeeding culture over the last two generations – but luckily it’s being rebuilt by mothers all over the world. Health care professionals have had their knowledge eroded – but many are regaining their skills in supporting breastfeeding. Keep asking questions! If you don’t get good explanations, the person speaking may not be the best one to help you. You can smile sweetly, thank them for their concern, and find somebody better informed.
What I do
I have been helping mothers and babies learn to breastfeed since 1980, as a La Leche League Leader (www.laleche.org.uk and see also www.llli.org) and from 2002 to December 2017 as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (www.lcgb.org). I worked for many years as a Breastfeeding Support Worker in a maternity hospital. With my colleagues, I run drop-in sessions to assist mothers who wish to breastfeed their babies, for Cambridge Breastfeeding Alliance (www.bfsupportmatters.org.uk). During the coronavirus restrictions, we offer support online.
Please Note – The views I express here are my own: they are not the responsibility of any organisation I’m involved with.