A startlingly large number of women who want to breastfeed have to stop before they are ready, leaving them feeling a range of negative emotions, including grief, anger, guilt, shame and frustration, and often blaming themselves. But in a society that places little value on breastfeeding and mothers' feelings, their painful stories are often swept under the carpet to the detriment of women's mental health and experience of new motherhood.
Professor Amy Brown, the author of The Positive Breastfeeding Book and Breastfeeding Uncovered, has researched what breastfeeding really means to women, how they can feel when things don't go according to plan and, importantly, how we can change things for the next generation of women. Her findings make fascinating reading for anyone with personal experience of breastfeeding difficulties, those who support mothers to make infant feeding decisions that are right for them, or those who simply want to be part of changing the conversation.
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A sensitive and authoritative piece of work.
Why Breastfeeding Grief and Trauma Matter I am going to start with declaring I have been breastfeeding for the past six years straight, no breaks, no pauses and no sign of stopping anytime soon. Despite being on this journey for a while, I still struggle with my position on breastfeeding in terms of how this may be for other women. There are days when I want to tell everyone how fulfilling and amazing it has been and then there are days when I catch myself being mindful of the place other women might be on their journey. If breastfeeding is hard then talking about it and raising the topic sensitively is even harder. Prof. Amy Brown has shown through her handling of the subject, that she is a light guiding us in this conversation. I love her authoritative tone and how she weaves in a much-needed compassionate position into her work. This new book is no exception. In fact, I may go as far to say, this is her most delicate, nuanced piece of work to date. In why Breastfeeding Grief and Trauma Matter, Amy describes the journey of breastfeeding from the silent voices that sometimes get drowned in the cacophony of views by breastfeeding enthusiasts and those who simply say, “fed is best”. Her acknowledgement that grief and trauma around breastfeeding is more important to identify, acknowledge and construct support around will be a lasting legacy of this book. This is one of the few books that deals with the women for whom breastfeeding has been not only a source of personal grief but also a breakdown of trust from their caregivers. This book has helped me understand how over time messages that were well intentioned become a source of grief and even annoyance to so many women. The book expertly along with real stories walks the reader through the power of breastfeeding, why do women feel a deep connection with breastfeeding and how it is so much more than infant nutrition. The connection to postnatal depression is well publicised but the book lays out clearly how it slowly creeps into the lives of new mothers, particularly who did not find the right support at the point of need. This is a tragedy for us all in society. Mothers who are not listened to, belittled or even ridiculed have a voice in these pages. I felt at times not being able to talk about my own breastfeeding journey without worrying excessively about the contextual element of my thoughts makes me complicit in the sad state of affairs we all find ourselves in. The final couple of chapters then, make it possible for all us to support new mothers whether we are professionals in the field, fellow mothers or family. I have found a new tone of voice, fresh and sensitive vocabulary, but most of all I found that I can and should participate in this dialogue and simply being quiet will only serve to perpetuate the misconceptions around breastfeeding in our times.
A must read, especially for those who meet mums in their role day to day
An absolute eye opener. The stories of real mums, and how the care or lack of, impact on them for years to come. We owe it to the mums and families we meet in our roles (bfing supporters, midwives,health visitors, GPs, Pharmacists etc) to know just how we can impact both positively and negatively on a mums long term feelings. We can't keep ignoring those who've been let down by poor support. Their voices matter. Please i urge all to read this, to see really what mums who did not meet their bfing goals feel and think and to learn how we can be better practitioners. As ever, Amy Brown, presents her reseach in an easy to read format whilst at the same time supporting the book work evidence based research and information throughout. Keep on writing Amy!