My kids may be getting a bit bigger these days, but I still have vivid memories of the many hours spent breastfeeding them when they were babies. The smell of their skin, their little fingers wrapped around my own – and easily getting through a whole episode of Desperate Housewives in the space of just one newborn feed. If this sounds like a blissful picture, in many ways it was – but those early weeks of feeding were also challenging and painful, particularly with my first son with whom I suffered badly with both mastitis and thrush within my breasts. Feeding became very difficult, sometimes leaving me wondering if I was going to be able to manage to carry on with it. I look back on that time with a mixture of fond memories and sadness, remembering how much I was struggling and also how desperate I was for the situation to improve. I’m glad to say that things did improve though, and after getting proper treatment and advice, I was able to enjoy breastfeeding my son (and subsequently his little brother) for a year.
There were a few key elements in making this happen – the support of family, visits from a breastfeeding buddy, joining a local breastfeeding group and of course access to the right medical care. Eventually breastfeeding became easy and when my children decided to ‘give me up’ rather than the other way around, I admit it, I felt a little lost!
One of the other elements in helping me get through the early months of breastfeeding, was being able to get out and about and meet people while I was feeding. If I hadn’t been able to do that I would most likely have spent a lot of time at home feeling miserable when things were at their worst. Being able to meet my Mum, my sister or a friend for coffee really helped take my mind off things – and later, when things were going better: well, it just brightened up my day. The fact that no one seemed to bat an eyelid while I discreetly breastfed my baby while out for a spot of lunch really helped my confidence. It’s these small everyday things that can really make a difference when someone is going through a difficult time.
And so I was delighted when the breastfeeding experts over at Lansinoh asked me to help promote their Feed With Confidence Awards 2017, the first UK award scheme to recognise cafes, shops and other public places where breastfeeding is encouraged. Attitudes towards breastfeeding can have a huge impact on how a mother feels about feeding her baby, and public perceptions may be one reason the UK has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world. Research carried out recently by Lansinoh showed that an average of 46% of people felt uncomfortable seeing a woman breastfeeding a baby in a restaurant, pub, or café, and also quashed general misconceptions about age or gender bias – the groups more accepting of breastfeeding in public were the over 65 age group and men. The results indicate we still have a long way to go in the UK in supporting breastfeeding women, and I’m happy to back Lansinoh in their quest to find businesses who are doing exactly that.
So do head over to their website and cast your vote for places that make breastfeeding mums more comfortable – the awards aren’t just limited to cafes and restaurants: you can also vote for places like libraries and cinemas that make breastfeeding mums feel welcome too. When you vote you’ll also be entered into a prize draw to win a family friendly mini break. And let’s face it, at this time of year, who couldn’t do with a prize like that?
Main Image: Canva
*In return for writing this post, I received some Lansinoh goodies to be used in a Facebook giveway during September 2017. Do pop over to my Facebook page if you’d like to find out more!