"I was one of the lucky ones"
In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week, our co-founder, Julie, shares her breastfeeding journey with her two babies and why she believes education, support and empowerment are the cornerstones of a successful breastfeeding experience for mothers who want to breastfeed.
"I was one of the lucky ones.
I delivered Ellie, my first baby, at a breastfeeding friendly leading public hospital for women in Sydney. The breastfeeding support was incredible.
It was a textbook case. My milk came in on day 3 and then I had 2-3 hourly support from the hospital midwives for 5 entire days to teach me how to feed. That's right, they would check on me every 2-3 hours and help with my positioning and latch.
I felt confident and able to feed by the time I left hospital on day 5 and then had an easy journey until I chose to wean at 16 months to fall pregnant with my second baby. The early support was crucial and gave me the confidence to feed on demand, anytime and anywhere! I felt so well educated and supported in those early days and was easily able to apply that knowledge to my second baby and breastfeeding journey with him.
I had an entirely different experience regarding breastfeeding support at a leading private hospital in Hong Kong, where formula was pushed hard for my premature baby. But, fortunately, I was able to draw on the education I received for my first baby about infant stomach size and feeding requirements in the first few days to advocate for myself and allow my son to learn to breastfeed.
I knew if he'd fill up on formula first he'd have no incentive to suck and stimulate my milk to come in. I fought hard to allow my son to breastfeed first and supplement with a small amount of formula only after each feed, and to the paediatrician's surprise, my milk came in quickly and my son fed and gained weight rapidly. He exceeded his birth weight by the time we left hospital on the 5th day!
Now I'm pregnant with my third and plan to breastfeed again. I find it so convenient to breastfeed directly and not have to worry about sterilising bottles.
I am not anti-formula by any means. I attempted to give both my babies formula at various times for various reasons. I don't judge women who have chosen to formula feed for whatever reason. It's your choice, and your decision and each mum decides what's best for her and her baby.
What does make me sad though is the number of women I've seen attempt to breastfeed so desperately and be unable to due to lack of education and support.
What I am strongly for is supporting women to learn to breastfeed should they want to, supporting them to make an informed, evidence based choice, and educating partners, workplaces and the medical profession on how to support mother's choice to breastfeed.
I had an easy breastfeeding journey. It doesn't have to be hard, it doesn't have to be painful and I'm convinced the reason I had it easy was because I was taught how to do it - it wasn't something I just knew how to do instinctively or naturally. It's a learned skill for both mother and baby.
My wish for all new mums is to be given the level of support and education I received. After experiencing a birth at a different hospital and hearing the stories of too many of my friends who have wanted to breastfeed but couldn't because they were never given the support that I had, I'm so grateful to the midwives who gave me the knowledge and skills I needed for a successful, easy and enjoyable breastfeeding journey."