So, it's World Breastfeeding Week 2018! I made a little video about the recent Dispatches episode and my general thoughts about WBW.
Anyway, as I was driving home late at night recently my rambling thought processes led me to think about how breastfeeding is like swimming. Yes, that's right, swimming. Bear with me...
So, when you learn to swim, you might be taken to the pool by your parents or you might have lessons. You will be familiar with what a pool is like, the smell, the sound, the way people behave and so on. You'll see other people swimming and get an idea of what front crawl looks like, as well as breaststroke, backstroke and maybe even butterfly.
Now imagine you get pushed into the deep end of a swimming pool the very first time you ever go. You might be able to stay afloat and by some chance may even figure out some swimming strokes. A quick look around might help to get some tips on what you are supposed to be doing and help you make some swimming progress.
Breastfeeding is a learned behaviour. If you spend your childhood being around people breastfeeding then you get used to what it looks like, how it's done. You might have some antenatal days when you get pregnant to teach you some tips. When you give it a go you feel like you have somewhere to start from.
It's no fun being pushed in the deep end. You might sink or you might swim. If you sink then it's hardly your fault, is it? Maybe a float might be chucked in by a breastfeeding peer supporter, and that might make all the difference.
The problem with breastfeeding rates is not getting women to try breastfeeding, it's failing to prepare and support them in reaching their breastfeeding goals. You wouldn't chuck someone in a pool and expect them to swim; don't expect women to breastfeed if they've never seen it, been given no antenatal education and have little understanding of how it works. It's not right.
If you like this, you might like my book Milk. Check it out here and let me know what you think in the comments!