Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Voucher incentive for breastfeeding mums a step in the right direction ?

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Sheffield University have announced today, that they will be running a pilot scheme where mum’s who breastfeed can get up to £200 in vouchers.  #breastfeeding is currently bouncing back and forth all over twitter, so what do you think about being paid to breastfeed?

Personally I was unable to breastfeed my son, and with my second child my daughter I no longer wanted to.

Here is my story of breastfeeding, or not at the case was!

When I fell pregnant with Joshua, I as a first time mum wanted to do everything I could to give him the best possible start in life.  I chose bottles and teats that went with my breast pump , so I would be able to switch from breast to bottle if needed.  I have to admit I was not overly keen on the prospect of breastfeeding, but I had my pump and I would use it if needed.

Joshua’s birth was rather traumatic and resulted in him needing to be delivered very quickly and resulted in an episiotomy.  I tried to breast feed while in hospital but I was unable to get him to latch on.  I had to bottle feed him and decided to try again once at home the next day.  I was not over the moon that I had fallen at the first breastfeeding hurdle but figured it would happen in time.  I was sent home the following day and I tried in vain for the next few days, the frustration and failure I felt was overwhelming why could I not manage such a natural thing for Joshua ?  I started to express and bottle feed him alongside formula.

I can still clearly remember crying all over my brand new baby boy at 3am one morning after another failed attempt.  After five very long days I decided to give up trying and expressed what little milk I could.  When I saw my midwife when Joshua was 10 days old I told her I had stopped trying and was told that the reason he wasn’t able to latch on was due to the fact he was too sleepy, why ? because I had been taking codeine to manage my episiotomy pain since birth!!

To say I was angry was putting it mildly, each and every appointment with my midwife after Joshua was born, had included conversations about my attempts to breastfeed and checking my notes, so why wasn’t this picked up?  My midwife said that I should have been prescribed a different pain killer that wouldn’t have caused the problems I had experienced.  But this was all too late for me and my son, surely this shouldn’t happen in a time when breastfeeding is actively encouraged by midwives.

By the time I fell pregnant with Isabelle I had decided that I didn’t want to try and breastfeed her but would express for the first couple of weeks, not having the pressure and possible failure ahead of me with feeding her made caring for her so much easier.  I didn’t feel I had let her down at all.  However I was asked just the once if I was breastfeeding her and it was never mentioned again.

So back to the pilot that Sheffield University is going to run, will offering mum’s vouchers really encourage them to breastfeed ?  The intention is actually a good idea,and the purpose is great, but sadly we are living in a country that seems to actively discourage it.  Without the information and support needed readily available for new mum’s can it really work ? 

Most parents know the benefits that breastfeeding your child gives them including :
  • prevention of tummy bugs – chest infections – asthma and ear infections
  • can lead to better level of educational attainment
In a nut shell your breast milk contains the ingredients to build stronger immunity.  What I think is not always mentioned is that the first milk produced after birth (Colostrum) is packed with these essential nutrients, and therefore at the very least this will help build your child’s immunity, and boost everything to start working in their body, it can also prevent Jaundice.  If alongside promotion and awareness of breastfeeding, mothers to be were given the facts about expressing for as long as possible they may be more willing to try.  When you have a baby and if you like it or not, breast milk will inevitably be something you have to deal with if only because you need to relieve the pain that engorgement can cause.

I have always had great admiration for mum’s who achieved what I wasn’t able to, as it seems they are consistently battling to fight the stigma that seems to be everywhere.  The press is full of stories of mum’s who for whatever stupid reason have been asked to stop feeding their child in a public place, a really stupid reaction to something so natural and normal.  We seem to live in a country that has managed to sexualise breasts and made them so far away from their intended purpose that people are genuinely shocked when a woman chooses to feed her baby without a bottle.  This is the main reason new mum’s may not even consider breastfeeding, personally I only know one mum who has successfully breastfed their child past a few weeks and she took to it like a duck to water(despite being told by those close to her not to bother). This isn’t how it should be surely ?

Maybe making breastfeeding information available to ladies while they are pregnant, and active support after birth would be better. 

I’m pretty sure being offered vouchers wouldn’t have changed my story, but a few new mum’s may just give it a go.  And if the pilot is a success maybe attitudes towards breastfeeding may change in the future.

What do you think ?  Did you, like me try to breastfeed but were unable to ?

Have you managed to breastfeed for as long as possible, did you have any negative comments or reactions?

I would as always love to know what you think, so please leave me a comment below



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