When we hear the term “step up” or “my friend, my partner, my family member stepped up for me” what do we take this to mean? And what does it mean in the context of breastfeeding support?
This year the theme for World Breastfeeding Week is ‘step up for breastfeeding’ and I must say it really resonates with me…especially after the weekend that just passed.
My friend was in need of real breastfeeding support
It was Sunday and the day started off just like any other family Sunday. We were running errands as a family but missing our 9-year-old who is away at camp. Whilst doing our errands I sent a text to a friend who last week gave birth to her 6th baby. She has never succeeded with breastfeeding to date and is determined to try her best this time around. Unfortunately, she is failing to get actual support in person or online. She is finding Facebook groups frustrating and due to not having a successful previous nursing relationship to lean on for experience she is lacking the language to effectively communicate what isn’t working right.
I have fed our eldest for 7 years and 4 months – until they chose to self-wean whilst I was pregnant with our current milk monster who turns 2 years in 14 days time. I am passionate to try to elevate my friends so they can have a positive feeding relationship. I am passionate about sign-posting them to hands-on support which will make a difference, passionate that I have the language to know the words to use, and things to say, but above all passionate to be that friend who doesn’t give up on enabling their friends to succeed. Yes, I am that friend who texts at 3am just to say “you’ve got this” when I notice you’re online on Facebook.
I am passionate to try to elevate my friends so they can have a positive feeding relationship.
We drove an hour to see if I could help her
So after a few errands this morning as it neared to lunchtime, I text my friend and asked if she’d like us to go over and offer some hands-on help. She lives an hours drive away from me (and I am moving house in a week so realistically I should have been packing BUT my friend and her son needed my help more)
When we got a reply of “yes please” we headed over. Very quickly it became clear inverted nipples were at the crux of why she was struggling. After telling her to plump up her nipple with the aid of her haakaa as she couldn’t find her latch assist, she tried a couple of positions, little man was getting agitated because he was trying his best. After only a couple of sips he unlatched again.
Very quickly it became clear inverted nipples were at the crux of why she was struggling.
I offered to feed my friend’s baby
I stole him for a quick cuddle and he stuck his tongue out at me, rolling its tip along down near his chin, demonstrating that he could move it freely and unrestricted. This was such a positive sign.
I then offered to let him feed from me (much to the frown and confused look on my two-year-olds face!). My friend was happy for me to do this. Immediately I could see that his latch was very shallow. He was swallowing but only after a couple of sucks. He was trying so hard but something still wasn’t working, so back to my friends arms he went, different positions once more tried and he latched again briefly, bobbing on and off.
Our visit made a positive difference
We had to leave to come home, and mid-journey I got a text from my friend. She thanked me for being a friend and stepping up for her today, empowering her with the vocabulary to explain tomorrow to anyone professional who will listen that they need more help and support. Even better than that, she video-called me the very next morning to let me know my tips had helped and baby was feeding well!
She video-called me the very next morning to let me know my tips had helped and baby was feeding well!
I really hope that they now have the tools they need to find their feet and have a long and successful feeding partnership. I also hope that we can all take the time to ‘step up for breastfeeding’ when the need arises – whether it’s during World Breastfeeding Week or not!
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