Thursday, June 24, 2010

Breastfeeding awareness week

175/365 Breastfeeding awareness week
This week is national breastfeeding awareness week, although if you visit the Department of Health website you'd be forgiven for thinking they'd forgotten. There are loads of benefits to breastfeeding, some of which I'll repeat here!

Breastmilk gives babies all the nutrients they need for the first six months of life and helps protect them from infection and diseases. It also reduces mothers' chances of getting certain diseases later in life.

Breastfeeding also allows you and your baby to get closer - physically and emotionally. So while your child is feeding, the bond between you can grow stronger.

Bottle feeding does not give your baby the same ingredients as breastmilk, which is designed to be easy for your baby to absorb and is perfect to help her grow and develop. Also, bottle feeding doesn't provide protection against infection and diseases.

Breastfeeding helps protect your baby against:

* ear infections
* gastro-intestinal infections
* chest infections
* urine infections
* childhood diabetes
* eczema
* obesity
* asthma.

Breastfeeding helps protect mothers against:

* ovarian cancer
* breast cancer
* weak bones later in life.

Those of you who know me well know that I didn't manage to breastfeed my son James after he was born prematurely and unable to suck. I got no real help and gave up pretty quickly, though I expressed milk for a while.

With Claudia I was pretty determined to succeed, and I'm pleased to say that despite one early wobble we are still going now. She is 22 months old. Of course, according to many people, some of them health professionals, that makes us weird, obscene, disgusting, you name it.

I don't see it like that. I'll admit I never intended to breastfeed much beyond 6 months, I was going back to work for a start. Claudia had other ideas though, and wouldn't take a bottle. So I carried on. And carried on. And carried on. To be honest it's so easy now - she feeds most evenings and some mornings, but not much more than that, that I'm almost inclined to just carry on until she wants to stop. And if that makes me some kind of crazed lentil-knitting hippy, so be it.