Respect and Knowledge

The RCM just published a statement about infant feeding and when I read it in the news,  I immediately thought: ’yes, of course, this makes sense’; it also made me think of why I was always felt comfortable to be a mum working at Birthlight. The main reasons are that there is respect and that, at Birthlight, the bonding between the mum and the baby is the most important thing, whatever the type of birth or way to feed the baby.

Of course, a natural birth and breastfeeding are the best options for the baby and the mum but this is not always possible for various reasons. When it is not, who are we to judge that person? Do we have all the cards in hand to understand her choice? And, above all, did she have all the cards in her hand to make the most appropriate choice for herself and her family?

Culture, knowledge, past and current experiences will shape the way we are as pregnant women and then mums. Cultures and past experiences are part of one’s identity and cannot be altered, but with great knowledge and positive experiences then one can make the best choice for herself, the baby and the family.  So, if I come back to my own experience as a mum with French culture and a difficult first birth, I assessed all the options for my second pregnancy. I thought of what mattered most to me not only during the birth but, afterwards, as a woman in a relationship and I took the offered option of a planned c-section.  At the time, I was already working at Birthlight, so it might sounds  a crazy choice to you but, to me, it was a way to not have to worry about my own health and be able to completely focus on my two children and husband.  Did I feel judged at the time by the Birthlight team? No. Why? Because from Françoise Freedman down to each Birthlight teacher, the respect and the bonding mum/baby are primordial.  As for breastfeeding, my first baby being born with a cleft lip and palate, breastfeeding was not possible so I spent 3 months with a double electrical pump and special squeeze bottles to feed her.  The whole process was taking over 1 hour and half and… she was feeding every 3 hours …  So with my second child, I really wanted to experience skin-to-skin breastfeeding: I struggled during my stay at the maternity and then with  the health visitor  and was ready to  give up and go for bottle-feed. Everything changed when Francoise came to visit me and show me exactly how to hold my baby on my breast. One simple hold was the key for a comfortable breastfeeding!

What makes me sad, is that, in a lot of places, there is no choice: In Brazil and some other countries, c-section is the ‘normal way‘ to give birth and, unless challenged, there is no other way to give birth; in France, women will have a short maternity leave and have to immediately be back to be an active working mum and a irresistible partner so breastfeeding usually does not last long (although this has started to change); in other countries, you may find that there is a feeling that you have failed if you cannot / do not  breastfeed.  

Via the Pregnancy yoga, Postnatal yoga, Birth preparation and CPDs such as the Breastfeeding yoga day, PBAC or the Diastasis Recti CPD, Birthlight and its network of teachers help women to have more knowledge about the possible options for birth and beyond, a greater awareness of their body which will lead to less fear during birth, a feeling of empowerment and a better way to connect with the baby. This is what we should all embrace.

Birthlight, for the greater enjoyment of pregnancy, birth and babies: what a great motto to spread!


Sylvie Russell

June 2018

 

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