This Week We Are Looking At Attachment And Positioning, By Beccy Hooper…

As GBSN have not been able to run the groups for almost six months, we are having some update training sessions from the Breastfeeding Counsellors.

This week we are looking at attachment and positioning, as we are all aware this is one of the most important parts of your breastfeeding journey. 
So as I have been reading up I thought I would share with you. 

Let’s start at the beginning with how we hold our babies, the age-old hold is tummy to tummy with the baby’s nose resting next to the nipple. This is a good starting point, you could also use the biological nurturing position of being laid back with your baby on your chest. 
When latching your baby on the head should be nice and free, so they can help move into the right position. 
When tummy to tummy, hold your baby around their neck giving your baby the opportunity to tilt their head. 
Nose should be close to your nipple so they can smell your milk. The bottom lip should be resting on your breast, and the top lip brushing the nipple. 
Next you need your baby to open its mouth as wide as possible (like a large yawn) with the baby’s tongue sticking out. 
When this happens you can push your baby on to the nipple, with a mouth full of breast tissue, and the nose clear. 
A good sign of a great latch and positioning are a large mouthful of breast, chin touching the breast underneath, no pain on the nipple, and nice long sucks, with swallowing in between. You know your baby has had a good latch because they will drop off when they are finished, in a milk drunk state. 

Other great signs of a good attachment and positioning are weight gain after two weeks from birth. It’s not unusual for babies to lose weight to start with, but within two weeks you would want your baby to start gaining weight. 
And obviously there should be plenty of wet nappies – again during those first few days you may only get two to three wet nappies, then up to six after the first 48 hours. 
In the first week your baby should poo two times in the first three days, and this will look like tar, this is called the meconium. After the 3rd day you would expect greenish poos, and by the end of the first week they should look like mustard. 
If this is not happening your baby is not getting enough milk to flush their system out. 
UNICEF have a great online leaflet on the benefits of breastfeeding, with some lovely pictures showing how the latch should look. 

Starting your breastfeeding journey well will mean you are more like to succeed in breastfeeding your baby. There are so many positives to this. For the baby they are receiving the perfect milk for them full of nutrients and immune busting goodness. 
For the mother it is a great way to help protect yourself from ovarian and breast cancer in the long run. 
It is also free, whereas formula is likely to cost you about fifty pounds a month!! 

I know partners often feel a bit left out at the beginning as they are unable to feed the baby. but at this early stage they take a big role in the success of breastfeeding. With the right support at home you are more likely to breastfeed your baby. 
Your partner can still bond with the baby through lots of cuddles, bathing them and helping mum with the household and the other children if you have more than one. 

If you’re not feeling like you have a good latch, why not book a 1-2-1 session with one of our Breastfeeding Counsellors?


Fourth Trimester…By Beccy Hooper…

Fourth trimester…
You’ll be pleased to know that this week’s blog is much shorter than the last few, and a little more light hearted! I just wanted a quick chat about the first few months after having your baby and breastfeeding.Obviously this is such an important time for you and your baby for so many reasons, one of the biggest being establishing breastfeeding. For some this may feel as if all you do is sit on the sofa and feed. But that’s ok, in fact it’s great, your body gets to heal from growing and birthing this amazing baby. But it also gives the opportunity to get to know your baby, and to learn how to breastfeed. It’s not always as easy as we think it’s going to be. 

And maybe for you mums over the last 6 months the lockdown has helped you achieve this. As much as it’s been difficult not being able to go to groups and socialise it has given mums the opportunity to spend time at home, and to give your breastfeeding journey a good start. It seems that the babies born in the last six months have had smaller drops in birth weight, or it has taken less time for them to put the weight back on. From what I’ve read and seen this seems to be because new mums are not juggling so much in the early stages of motherhood.So often we feel like we need to be welcoming visitors and getting out of the house to make the most of maternity leave. But just maybe we are better off spending those first few months on the sofa with our babies. 

With a quick google it seems that this year there has been a small increase in breastfeeding rates. And while there may not be true evidence as to why, I can’t help but think it is probably because of the lack of distraction and so many visitors to the house. So often mothers are uncomfortable in feeding in public and this has not been an issue with so little open. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next few months with so many more things opening and more movement within the country. 

I feel so much can be taken from the way we’ve been living this year, I know we have missed holidays and being able to do as we please. But just maybe a quieter pace of life can bring many other achievements and allow us to cherish the smaller things in life. Being able to watch our children grow strong from breastfeeding is a true miracle. 
As always thanks for reading this….. 


Second Instalment Of The Big Letdown…By Beccy Hooper…

I’ve moved on to the second part of the book, “battling structural barriers”.

This chapter starts by looking at the stories of two women who gave birth at the same time, one in the U.S. and the other in the UK. I guess I’m naive in thinking that in every western country each women gets the same support and care that they need or are looking for, but this does not seem to the case.

There is a big cultural difference between the UK and the U.S. when it comes to childbirth. The story of the two women in the book describes two mothers whose babies had lost weight even though they were both feeding constantly. In the U.S. the mother went to see the paediatrician, which did not go well. She simply was told that it is common for mothers not to produce enough milk and that she should supplement with formula, this started with one feed a day then two to three, and three weeks later it was only formula. In the doctors’ surgery the mother noticed the same teddy badge that was on the bag of free formula samples when she left the hospital!

The story of the mother in the UK went slightly differently, her delivery was midwife-led with little interference, her baby did lose some weight and a formula supplement had been suggested but this mother was able to find a support group which met several times a week. Spending time with other mothers meant she was able to figure out what was happening with her own body. She was only producing milk from one breast. The doctor did not think she would be able to feed her baby with only one breast. But with the right support and educating herself she fed her daughter for 16 months and then went on to feed her son for 18 months. 

Each mother had struggles but with the right support this can be overcome. In the UK we have baby friendly hospitals, so they may offer formula if you would like but generally the midwives are there to support you with breastfeeding. In the U.S. the hospitals seem to still be financial tied to formula companies so are rather blinded to what might be best for the mother and baby.

Then of course you have to remember that in the U.S. all medical help comes under insurance, and it seems that health insurance does not cover lactation dysfunction and as a result doctors spend little time helping mothers. During 2014-2016 there were 58 studies on erectile dysfunction in the US and only 13 studies on lactation failure! Insurance covers the cost of Viagra!With little time and study on the failure of breastfeeding in the U.S. mothers are unable to receive the help they go looking for when they need support.

We also have to remember that most women in the U.S. get little or no maternity leave, and many women are back at work within weeks of childbirth. As a result even if you have established breastfeeding in that short time you now have to figure out a pumping routine.In other countries in the world women often have up to 12 months off, and depending on where you live some even offer more time.

Over the years there have been some changes in the U.S. with some states offering family insurance which means that parents are able to take up to 12 weeks off for family care.In other states a family care program gives 6 weeks of reduced wages. But none of this is comparable to the maternity pay we receive in England. We are so lucky that we are able to stay at home with reduced pay for 9 months, and even that often doesn’t seem long enough. But with the NHS we know that if we choose to stay home longer with no income we are in a much better position than mothers in the U.S.

In 2012 in the U.S. a quarter of mothers who gave birth returned to work after 10 days! Could you imagine it? Most of us we are still navigating becoming mothers!

As there is no real policy for maternity leave and each state seem to have their own rules, it comes down to the individual companies. It seems that larger companies such as Mcdonalds, Chipotle and have extended their maternity leave and in 2007 Google changed its policy from 12 to 18 weeks paid leave. And Facebook includes 4 months leave for new mums plus $4000 payment for each child. But Netflix is the company to work for – they give up to a year off for any new parent (which includes adoption) – I know who I’d work for!!But all of these companies are office-based, these policies do not filter down to hourly rate jobs in factories or retail work. 90% of these workers are given no maternity paid time off. Hence why mothers go back after just weeks off, leaving breastfeeding difficult to fully establish.Becoming a mother in the U.S. is a juggle of using holiday and sick days to be able to take any leave. 

For mothers who do successfully breastfeed thanks to the Fair Labour Standards Act which came in place in 2010 mothers are given unpaid 15 minute breaks so they are able to pump. This alongside the Nursing Mothers Law the employer must give a safe, clean private space for a mother to be able to do this, this seems to be offered within office-based jobs, but unfortunately this does not always happen in other areas of work. There are still cases of mothers who are wanting to be able to pump being treated poorly in the work place.

Kimberly works along side UNICEF and the World Health Organisation to write policies to help women in the U.S. and worldwide have a safer and more caring system. I was unaware that it took the U.S. until 1994 to finally join forces with the WHO, it was President Clinton who initiated this – before that no president had wanted to put women and babies before the profits of formula in America, but as we know it’s a multi billion dollar business!

So I am still only half way through this book, and with each page I’m learning more about the injustice that breastfeeding mothers in the U.S. have to deal with. Without women like Kimberly the country would be in an even worse state. Kimberly is an activist for all mothers and babies but her work is more important for the black and brown women of the U.S.; the country is slowly changing but the majority of low paid workers are of colour which keeps the boundaries of long term breastfeeding at bay to this mothers – this has the knock-on effect of poor health and obesity.

I still have many more pages of this book to read, and I am likely to carry on writing about it. I will share my thoughts as I go, but I truly recommend that you buy or borrow a copy and read it for yourself. 

We need to continuously educate ourselves and the others around to make the world a safer place for mothers and babies – to give more opportunities for mothers to breastfeed their babies, for the babies’ health and their own.

As always thank you for reading my blog. 


So Here It Is…(Happy Black Breastfeeding Week) By Beccy Hooper…

So here it is…(Happy Black Breastfeeding Week)

I said ages ago I would read The Big Letdown by Kimberly Seals Allers and as it is Black Breastfeeding Awareness Week I thought I should finally get around to it! I’ve read the first third of the book, which is all about the massive influence of the corporate companies in hospitals and the medical world within the USA…it’s definitely an eye opener.
I always thought I knew quite a bit about the influence of formula companies in our world but I was wrong! It’s teaching me a lot!
Reading this it’s a miracle that any women in America breastfeed!
Kimberly’s research is obviously mostly in America as that is where she lives and works.

Up until 2015 formula companies have been involved physically and financially with the building of new hospital wings and nurseries within hospitals, it is not unusual in America to have mothers and babies separated from each other very quickly after birth. It seems from what Kimberly has written that babies are placed in nurseries away from the mother so the mother can recover from the birth! (I am presuming that if mothers ask for their babies to be placed with them then they are allowed).
With separation of mothers and babies often the cues that come with breastfeeding are missed, and babies are only brought to the mother once they are already upset and then struggle to latch.
This is very distressing for both the mother and baby, but there is always formula ready within the hospital. And then each mother is sent home with free formula and vouchers for more formula from the hospital!!

Up until the early 1900s breastfeeding or wet nurses were the norm, then in the 1910s medical experts started producing informational pamphlets on breastfeeding, these included recommendations on how to successfully breastfeed.
Apparently a mother needs 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night, a nap in the day, regular exercise, fresh air twice a day and a strict feeding schedule! As we are very aware this is quite a difficult schedule to keep with a new baby, this information is very different from what we as mothers are told in 2020!
In the 1920s and 30s evaporated milk became widely available at a low cost, this became a source of ingredients for home made formula when mothers found it difficult to breastfeed. This unfortunately did lead to babies having diet related illnesses.
In the 1940s the manufacturers of the evaporated milk ran a radio jingle
‘ the child is going to die
Because the mothers breast has given up..
Mama o mama the child cries
If you want your child to get well
Give it KLIM milk..’

In 1977 Fortune magazine estimated Nestle to be the most profitable food company in the world…it was dominating the formula milk market, and was the most aggressive promoter – which if you have read my other blogs you would know about! It was at this time that the worldwide boycott started towards Nestle.
By the mid 1970s more than 75% of American babies were being formula fed! This is the lowest breastfeeding rate in history.

Even in this day and age companies are still pushing that breast milk isn’t good enough. There is a company called ‘Happy Vitals’ which tests your breast milk offering information on the nutritional value of your milk, this test costs $169.95, and if you would like a more complex test which gives information about indicators of immunity and vitamin levels you can pay $659.95!
How crazy is this, having these tests available you are planting mistrust in our own abilities to feed our babies?
Where is the encouragement to believe that as mothers who produce milk to feed our babies?

I was amazed when reading at the beginning of the book how doctors in Germany started encouraging mothers to give birth in twilight sleep (this being a heavily sedated state) which meant the mother will not remember the labour. This didn’t mean the pain of labour wasn’t felt! This all started in 1913…two wealthy American women had heard all about this new way of having babies and urged it to be brought to America.
Labour went from being midwife led with very little intervention to a heavily sedated medical affair.
Feminists wanted to fight for women to have pain free childbirth, but they were not looking at the memory loss and even sometimes causing psychotic side effects.
The whole ordeal sounded quite horrific, most American doctors were against twilight sleep child birth. But there was a great demand due to women’s magazines at the time sharing articles about it.
Between 1914 and 1945 America became the twilight nation.

I’m in complete shock at just how far companies will go to stop women breastfeeding, I guess I find it more difficult knowing that it’s within a country that apparently has free speech yet so far reading Kimberly’s book shows that with enough manipulation women are continually being made to feel that are not able to feed their babies themselves and have to rely heavily on formula!
But then I shake myself and I have to remember this is all to do with money, the formula milk world is worth billions, of course they will do anything in their power to stop mothers breastfeeding.

This is to be continued….I feel that it’s not going to be easier to swallow, the book is going to be looking at the the sexualisation of breastfeeding and the structural barriers!
We will resume next week…i would highly recommend reading this book.


The Weeks Blog Has Been Written by Anna Wood Trustee…

The weeks blog has been written by Anna wood trustee

Right, I need to have a little rant.

PLEASE could people STOP starting “supportive” breastfeeding posts with the line “breastfeeding is hard AF”.

Maybe these writers don’t realise it but right there, RIGHT THERE IN THE OPENING LINE, you are undermining breastfeeding! You are being negative and you are telling pregnant women that something that 90% of them want to do IS hard “AF”.

How about “unsupported breastfeeding can be hard”?

If I had opened this post with “breastfeeding is easy”, think how many people would have stopped reading and skipped straight to the comments to shout at me for being wrong!

Unqualified statements are always going to be inaccurate!

Some women actually DO find breastfeeding easy from the start and never have any issues. Many women do face a challenge but get the right help and after that, find breastfeeding easy. They are not lying and stating “breastfeeding is hard AF” diminishes their stories.

It’s obviously important that women hear honest stories of breastfeeding alongside evidence based facts. But come on! Language is important.

Too many Mums contact support lines and groups saying “I knew breastfeeding was going to be painful, but I didn’t expect it to hurt this much”. They “knew” it was going to hurt. But any skilled breastfeeding supporter know that breastfeeding SHOULDN’T hurt. The negativity has been implanted into these Mums’ brains before baby even arrived.

Let’s be clear here: labour hurts, contractions hurt, pushing hurts, recovering from a c-section hurts. But we now focus on empowering women through hypnobirthing and/or sensible use of medication. But please let’s not women believe that because birthing their baby can be painful, breastfeeding will be too.

Breastfeeding is hard IF a Mum is not supported. Breastfeeding hurts IF there is a problem with attachment and positioning.

But many many women LOVE the act of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is different for each mother/children team and is beneficial for both. Well supported breastfeeding isn’t “Hard AF but worth it” it’s wonderful, positive, convenient, relaxing, bonding, nurturing and so many other things.

Also, stating “breastfeeding is hard AF” can also imply that formula feeding is easy. It’s not. And given that 90% of women who stop breastfeeding before six weeks wish they had been able to feed for longer, isn’t it important to remember the impact on their mental health and support them to make it easier, rather than telling them it categorically IS hard (AF). (As an aside, saying things like “breastfeeding is hard AF and after all fed is best” also seriously disrespects Mums’ mental health and dismisses their breastfeeding goals. If a Mum wants to breastfeed (as 90% do), why not open by telling her that when supported and going well it is magical and that HER choices matter?

The posts I have seen recently are intended to be supportive: they contain positive messages and often come with some evidenced based facts about breastfeeding.

But they open with utter negativity stated as fact. “Breastfeeding is hard AF.”

Amongst Breastfeeding Counsellors and trained Peer Supporters it is often said that if a Mum is experiencing pain when feeding (sore nipples etc) then often a small change can make a big difference. The same can be said for language.

So please, if you are writing a post intended to support women who plan to breastfeed or are currently breastfeeding, please think about your language and make a few careful edits.

What we need to say is:

⭐️ breastfeeding CAN be challenging but support is available
⭐️ breastfeeding is a skill that many women need help and support with
⭐️ like any new skill, if you’re about to try it, do some research first, maybe attend a Preparation for Breastfeeding class
⭐️ before baby arrives, find out where you will get support if you hit some difficulties
⭐️ breastfeeding can be uncomfortable at times but if it HURTS then you should seek help from a skilled professional
⭐️ when it’s going well and a Mum is well supported, breastfeeding is amazing and positive.