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Anyone know what this week is?

Who knows what today is?? Don’t all shout at once!

So did anyone realise it’s the start of National Breastfeeding Week?? Probably not, as there’s not much mention of it these days. Although this event is set by the Department of National Health I can’t seem to find any mention of government funding for it. In fact I missed it last year. This is indicative of the fact that funding for breastfeeding support has been reduced or withdrawn across the country and it’s so sad as the breastfeeding rates in the UK are amongst the lowest in the world.

Without the breastfeeding support I had been lucky enough to receive with both of my children (in 2011 and then again in 2014) I doubt I would have continued to breastfeed.

It seems ironic that I have a business centred on breastfeeding when I myself found breastfeeding so difficult!

When I was pregnant, like a lot of mums I thought I’d give breastfeeding a go. I didn’t think too much more about it.

One of our the “lessons” at our NCT ante natal course was all about breastfeeding but the teacher barely mentioned the negative side of breastfeeding. If they’d told me that for some mums it could be toe-curlingly painful for several weeks and you may often think of giving up, but that it was likely to get better with time and when it did it could be a wonderful thing, then I’m sure I would have been better prepared. If they’d mentioned tongue tie and nipple shields things would have been so different.

Both my children had tongue-ties – something very rarely diagnosed on the NHS. I wrote about it in this post here back in 2014.

The lowest point on my breastfeeding journey with my second child happened in hospital. We had to return there when he was three days old as he’d developed jaundice and this coincided with my milk was coming in, so I already had the baby blues. Whilst feeding him in A&E the pain was worse than “normal” and I looked down and saw he’d managed to pull a blood clot out of one nipple. He then threw the blood up over my husband’s shoulder. We were both in tears! Thankfully a wonderful volunteer worked in the hospital on Paediatrics to support parents with whatever emotions they were trying to cope with and she was so patient and kind and re-introduced me to nipple shields again. It seems crazy and irrational looking back as there were some very sick children in Paediatrics and there I was crying my heart out over something really small.

Don’t be fooled by the smile – I was gritting my teeth!

Luckily for me though, as I’ve already mentioned, I had several local Children’s Centres that offered fantastic free breastfeeding support drop-ins with the kindest, most patient breastfeeding support volunteers who gave you all the time you wanted to check your latch, tell you that you were doing a great job and even provide a shoulder to cry on. They suggested new positions to feed in to ease the pain. They suggested nipple shields, something I’d never heard of before. Nipple shields were my saviour! Without those I’d have given up.

They also noticed that both my babies were tongue-tied and recommended lactation consultants who could come to my home and snip the tie.

At these drop-ins surrounded by other mums also trying to do the best for their little newborn, who was totally reliant on them, there was also a real sense of camaraderie and a feeling that finally you’re not the only one finding this entirely natural activity sheer bloody hard work!

Sadly the two Children’s Centres where I went to these breastfeeding drop-ins have now closed due to lack of government funding. Some of the breastfeeding supporters in my area have formed a charity called Cambridge Breastfeeding Alliance at a new location and have managed to gain a lottery grant and donations to keep them going for the short term. It urgently needs more donations to fund itself for the long term, to pay for rents and other running costs. You can read about it here.

When breastfeeding support is not a priority for our government is it any wonder that breastfeeding rates are so low in our country?

On a lighter note, Milk & Mummy are celebrating National Breastfeeding Week by giving you amazing nursing mums a little treat in the form of 15% off EVERYTHING on the site until Wednesday 26th June. This even applies to sale items, but not postage. Simply type in code NBFW15 at the basket stage.

I’d love to hear your thoughts or comments on this. Did you get the breastfeeding support you needed? Perhaps you’re a breastfeeding supporter yourself and can give some struggling mums a few words of advice.

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About Me:

My name is Emma and I have three (!) wonderful babies. The oldest is my daughter Elsa, born in 2011 the second is “Milk & Mummy” my online boutique selling beautiful breastfeeding clothes and launched in 2012, and the youngest is my son Oliver, born in August 2014. All three exhaust me, excite me and make me proud on a daily basis and naturally all vie for my attention! But of course I wouldn't have it any other way.

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Milk & Mummy sells stylish nursing clothes including nursing tops and nursing dresses. We have everything from casual breastfeeding tops for a day at home to glamorous breastfeeding dresses for weddings. Many of our nursing dresses are also maternity dresses and we also sell beautiful breastfeeding covers and cute baby dribble bibs.

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Milk & Mummy is a trading name of EG Downie Ltd, a company registered in England and Wales. Company number: 07812071