Breastfeeding support online sounds like a very good idea to me so I am pleased to share a new resource with you.

Breastfeeding Support

An emotive topic

Breastfeeding is a topic that can be very emotive. I feel nearly every mum wants to feed their baby in the best possible way. Breastfeeding does not come easily to all of us and I know I gave up after 2 weeks with my first son and went straight to bottle-feeding with my other two children. This relieved a lot of stress and worry about the wellbeing of the children but on the other hand, I still regret not managing to breastfeed and know it was due to just not having access to breastfeeding support. I did not know what I was doing and found one midwife quite brutal when I was asking for help. In the end my husband went and got bottles and formula as he felt my emotional wellbeing was at stake.

Breastfeeding support

Today I have a guest post from Jackie Hall reflecting on the state of breastfeeding in the UK and highlighting what she is doing to help.

“I’m Jackie Hall, an Infant Feeding Coordinator for the NHS, Lactation Consultant, mother to three (grown up) breastfed babies and a passionate advocate of breastfeeding. So why the frustration?

Over the 20+ years I have been supporting breastfeeding women, I have seen so many women lose confidence with various aspects of breastfeeding and at various stages.

The issues at stake are enormous. A recent Lancet series produced a large analysis regarding levels and trends of breastfeeding around the world. This confirmed that breastfeeding has multiple health benefits for children and mothers, and can increase life expectancy too. It can reduce the risk of sudden infant death, diarrhoea, chest infections, ear infections, as well as type 1 diabetes. It appears to protect against obesity and diabetes in later life, along with many other substantial benefits. For mothers, it can reduce the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, osteoporosis and more.

I am fully convinced that wherever you live in the world, breastfeeding is one of the most effective preventative health measures for children and mothers, and every effort should be made to offer all the information and support necessary to help mothers to do this.Most shockingly, I find that the Lancet revealed that the UK has the lowest rates of breastfeeding in the world at one year of age.

What needs to change?

I understand that these are challenging times, but austerity has bitten deep and cuts in services in various parts of the country have often meant that it’s even harder for women to find the support they need.

We also need to continue to educate the public as to the laws of the land in regard to breastfeeding. On a weekly basis we continue to hear stories in the news of breastfeeding mothers turned away from public transport, asked to stop feeding their child in restaurants, and to cover up in public places. It’s a disgrace!

As well as one-to-one support for mothers, my role also involves training health visitors and their teams, children’s centre workers, and volunteer peer supporters with breastfeeding skills and knowledge to equip them to help breastfeeding mothers.

However, what I’ve come to realise is that the mothers themselves are still not always getting the information and support exactly at the time they need it, and many give up for the lack of this timely input – despite all of our best efforts, including my own additional services.

Many use the internet in their daily search for answers, and although the information is out there (and there are some great resources available), it can be difficult to know which sources of information are evidence-based, and current –there is much conflicting information out there. Forums can be a great source of advice, but again, there can be much in the way of conflicting information and uninformed opinions.

New breastfeeding resource

The good news is that things are changing. Yes, we have the worst rates in the world for long term breastfeeding, but I feel that the only way is up! Various groups and associations are working hard to provide the support needed, and people are looking at new and innovative ways of doing this, including myself.

So for the past year I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and have been working on a side-project which I hope will ‘fill in some of the gaps’ for breastfeeding mothers.

During World Breastfeeding Week, (1st – 7th August 2017) ‘The Breastfeeding Companion’ was officially launched – an online, free, video-based resource for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.

It’s not a replacement for the one to one support so many mothers need, but it is an instant educational tool, which provides information in a friendly, easy-to-use way – using my specialist expertise and many years’ experience, in fact, using myself as the online ‘friend’.

Will it solve the breastfeeding crisis? Of course not. Will it offer reassurance to a frustrated mother in the middle of the night with a baby that just won’t latch?… I’m hoping so.”

You can check out so many supportive breastfeeding videos free of charge at the Breastfeeding Companion.

As I say breastfeeding is a very emotive topic and I was reassured when speaking with Jackie that she too had struggled with breastfeeding initially.

My point of view is that women should support each other as much as possible and like Jackie, I hope her free breastfeeding support online proves helpful to mums in the middle of the night when breastfeeding can feel a very lonely business indeed.

Did you get enough breastfeeding support?

Cuddle Fairy

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Here’s a story from the amazing Amy describing her experiences with endometriosis and how it led to her changing her life in quite a radical way.

Endrometriosis

Endometriosis story

“When I was studying at the University of Manchester, I could imagine my future as nothing other than a dedicated teaching career – it was inconceivable for me to do anything else. I graduated and qualified as a Secondary teacher of Religious Studies and Geography in 2002 and plunged straight into a full time job as a newly qualified teacher.

A few years later, the stresses of a teaching career and an unidentified chronic illness started to kick in. During my early twenties, I couldn’t understand why I was feeling exhausted all of the time,and I just put it down to the fast-paced career. The long hours, the behaviour problems and the politics. I still loved being in the classroom with the kids, but it was taking it’s toll.

Symptoms of endometriosis

Over the next few years, I started to experience crippling abdominal pain and repeated kidney infections. I was feeling exhausted and depressed. I still loved my job, but had this overwhelming feeling of not being able to cope anymore. I was diagnosed with endometriosis in my mid-twenties without a real explanation of what it was or how to many the disease.

Impact of endometriosis

In the years that followed, I had time off work for agonising period pain, stress and depression, not realising that they were linked to the disease. In was then put on the hormonal injection depoprovera which made me gain weight, get insomnia and start to have panic attacks. I lost my job and split up with my long term partner without a true understanding of what was happening.

Thankfully, a year later, I managed to repair the relationship and got back together with my now fiance. I feel that all of the physical and emotional turmoil was due to the endometriosis and the NHS’s lack of ability to manage and treat the disease. I changed my endometriosis medication and attempted a new teaching job down south, near my
family in Oxford. I still loved teaching the kids about culture, religion and the world, but again just a few months in, I was struggling to cope. I started to suffer from migraines and short term memory loss, which looking back was probably related to the energy that it was taking to get through every day in pain. It was when I almost collapsed in front of a class, and came home physically shaking and being sick that I started to realise that my career might not be compatible with my condition.

I finally admitted defeat and put in my application to retire on medical grounds. With the support of my family I battled against several medical professionals who didn’t appear to know what they were talking about. A year later I successfully had my lower grade teachers pension approved. It was agreed that I could work, but I couldn’t teach, and therefore I was entitled to a basic pension to support myself after a 13 years career. It was heart-breaking, but also a relief at the same time.

Moving on positively after an endometriosis diagnosis

I then moved back up North and started to work for myself online doing blogging and social media. It was something that could fit in with my illness and I could even work from bed! I set up Trumpeter Media and did a BTEC in social media for business. I loved learning something new. Clients started to come to me for help, and also asked me to teach them!I have to admit that the transition was initially hard for me, and I found it difficult to move forward. I
had two laparoscopic surgeries and I’m currently awaiting a full excision surgery and bowel resection.

Don’t quit!

Quite often, though, high impact events shake you up and force you to realise what is important in life. I knew that more than anything, I wanted to travel. The following summer I travelled solo through Turkey and Bulgaria, and it was the most liberating and amazing experience ever. Travelling solo, I was so proud of myself. | was doing something I was passionate about, and doing something completely for myself. In the two years that followed, I travelled to the Philippines, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Morocco and Israel. I loved it so much that I wanted to document my trip for people back home, and I loved to focus on historical and religious sites. And so my beloved
blog, Temple Seeker was born.

Looking back, I believe that everything happens for a reason. Now that I am essentially a digital nomad and can set my own itinerary and work schedule, I couldn’t imagine going back to long hours stuck in a classroom. The world is ready to be explored, and I now love what I do more than anything. Earning money on my laptop while I blog for Temple Seeker and travelling the world is truly the dream!”

I love how Amy’s story shows that with the right diagnosis and treatment of a heath issue life can improve. I love her enthusiasm for travel and how she shares that with other people. Here’s to changing direction when it works out so well!

Have you changed your life after a health  issue hit?

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