The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) launched its first World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) campaign twenty years ago this week. The week is set aside to encourage breastfeeding and commemorate UNICEF and WHO’s Innocenti Declaration on the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding worldwide.
The theme of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week is ‘Understanding the Past, Planning for the Future’. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) jointly developed and launched the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding in 2002, highlighting a clear need for optimal infant feeding practices in reducing malnutrition as well as poverty. The Global Strategy also calls for the development of comprehensive national policies which amongst others underline the desire to support exclusive breastfeeding for first six months.
It is ironic therefore that this was the week that I decided to stop breast-feeding. That is, one year, four months and four days after giving birth to my daughter. I think I have done an astonishing job lasting for so long. Breast feeding is no mean feat and not every woman can do it, or wants to do it.
Before I was ever pregnant, breast-feeding was always one of those things that I just knew I would do. I didn’t do it for this long out if choice. Bambina’s intolerance to animal milk protein forced me to provide for her. It has been tough at times but I don’t regret or begrudge a single minute if it.
I have had leaking boobs in public which is embarrassing. I have had swollen boobs at work and have had to empty my milk down the toilet which is frustrating as it feels like such a waste! I have bled, cracked and crusted. I have been woken from the deepest of sleeps and deprived from sleep in general. I have been “reported” for showing my breast in a Costa coffee shop, by a pensioner lady! I have had my top and bra yanked at, tears and tantrums thrown at the refusal. I have even been scratched and slapped in the face for keeping the boob to myself. I have loved every minute of it.
Whilst I support World Breastfeeding Week, although I don’t think it’s advertised or encouraged enough, I don’t consider myself a martyr because I did it. I agree with its benefits but I don’t believe that babies who are fed bottled milk grow up to be any worse off, health wise or emotionally.
For me, Breastfeeding was a personal choice. I don’t look down my nose or shake a placard at mothers who can’t or don’t do it. It worked for me and that’s the top and bottom of it.
It’s a closed chapter now. Bambina has become curious about other things. She says cat, dog, mamma, papa and hopefully from now on she won’t be saying “Thisss!” whilst prodding her little finger into my nipple!
Whilst women the world over are embarking on their Breastfeeding journey, I am gently placing my wonderful experience into a velvet lined box of treasured memories.
Bye bye boobie, it’s been emotional!
Mother Knows Breast #1 (Tea&Biscotti.com)
Mother Knows Breast #2 (Tea&Biscotti.com)
Mother Knows Breast #3 (Tea&Biscotti.com)