by Hannah Croft
After reading Canterbury Journal columnist Laura Riding’s article about her difficulty with breastfeeding her newborn son, I felt compelled to let readers know about the support that is available in Canterbury.
It is a family’s choice how they feed their baby. However, it is important that they feel adequately informed and supported to make decisions they are happy with as opposed to being forced down a path they hadn’t necessarily planned on taking.
We all know the awful expression “breast is best”, but in fact we need to come from another angle: “Breast is normal.” It is how our bodies expect to feed our babies and how babies expect to be fed.
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We all know the reasons why breastfeeding is important for mothers, babies and society as a whole, and no one is questioning this nor is that what this article is about.
What we are not so good at, and perhaps why breastfeeding rates in the UK are the lowest in the world, is that women may not be getting enough support to establish and continue breastfeeding.
While breastfeeding is natural and normal, for some women it is extremely hard work, and it takes time and commitment to establish, sometimes even specialist input.
It can take time for breastfeeding to fall into place. Mother and baby must learn the dance together and without the support systems around them many women make the decision to stop breastfeeding and to use formula milk instead.
For some this decision works well, but for some it’s not so great. Many grieve at not being able to feed their babies as they had planned, becoming angry and sad.
La Leche League (la leche means “the milk” in Spanish) was set up in America in the 1950s. Its founders were concerned the art of breastfeeding was being lost.
The organisation is now international.
Every week around the world women gather to offer friendship, support and kindness to each other at all stages in their journeys through pregnancy, breastfeeding and motherhood.
I am fortunate enough to co-run such meetings in Canterbury. We are part of LLL East Kent and meetings take place across the county in various locations to support mothers to reach their breastfeeding goals, whatever they look like.
I volunteer as a La Leche League Leader and through this I’m an accredited breastfeeding counsellor.
I’m able to share evidenced based information to help families find ways through breastfeeding and parenthood that works for them.
But what I can’t bring on my own is the warmth and richness that our little community brings and the support that it offers to breastfeeding families who recognise that breastfeeding is so much more than just milk.
If you’d like more info about LLL, please visit the website, search LLL Canterbury in Facebook or call me on 07732 090102.
Hannah Croft lives in Wincheap with her husband and two children, aged six and two. An accredited breastfeeding counsellor, she is passionate about helping families meet their breastfeeding goals.