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Guest Bloggers: Rahel Szabo & Rebecca Palmer

Breastfeeding – The Liquid Love

Photos by © Photography By Rahel

I grew up in a family and community where breastfeeding was as natural as the sky is blue. As I moved forward from there in my life, I realised, it’s not as natural for a lot of people as it should be. During my health promotion studies at university, I learned about all the benefits and the importance of breastfeeding and its impact for Mum and baby as well. Now, as a motherhood photographer I am so happy to preserve these special moments of closeness for Mums, show the evidence of their power and empower other Mums and tell them that they are not alone with their struggles. I know, that there are special circumstances when breastfeeding is something that it cannot be done, but for the majority of Mums, it should be something to aim for right after birth and should be supported by all their family and health professionals.

Breast Milk is the natural first food for babies, it has all the energy and nutrients the baby needs in the first few months and it has so many benefits for Mum and baby as well. According to WHO, “breastfeeding reduces child mortality and has health benefits that extend into adulthood. On a population basis, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life is the recommended way of feeding infants, followed by continued breastfeeding with appropriate complementary foods for up to two years or beyond.”

Breastfeeding not only reduces child mortality, but as it builds up the immune system of the baby, it prevents many childhood diseases. It is really great for the health of mothers too, as it helps prevents ovarian and breast cancer.

We could continue the health benefits of breastfeeding for long hours but there’s a thing I would like to talk about now, and that is the mental benefits of breastfeeding.

Yes, breastfeeding is not only important for physical health but it’s also the same important for mental health. Breastfeeding is a really amazing way for bonding with the baby. This bond will nurture the soul of baby and mother as well. It’s a great way for calming down and to feel the closeness. Whichever Mum I asked about what the best and the most important thing is for them in breastfeeding, they all said that it is the feeling of closeness, bonding and nurturing. How amazing that is!

Let me share the story of a beautiful Mum, Becky and her most adorable daughter, Natalia. Becky didn’t have the easiest way of pregnancy and breastfeeding, but she went through all of it and their images talk for themselves: all the moments of struggles were worth it. Becky and her husband were trying for a baby for 2 years before they got pregnant with Natalia. She discovered that she had a large ovarian cyst. As soon as it got removed, they got pregnant. She had a good pregnancy and a lovely and quick labour at hospital. Natalia is 8 months old now and she is breastfeeding exclusively (occasionally, she has expressed breastmilk from the bottle when Becky is out). Their breastfeeding journey wasn’t easy, but now they enjoy every second of it.

Q&A with #muminreallife, Becky.

What was the biggest struggle of breastfeeding for you and how did you come over it? 

I would say the biggest struggle for me was definitely the first 2 weeks especially the first couple of days. The first night it was knowing what she wanted and getting her to latch on. I got no sleep on the first night with the amazing feeling of giving birth and then looking over at her in the cot (fish bowl) thinking is she really mine! 

With the latch I really struggled with my right breast after a couple of days of trying different positions and nipple shield (which I found useless). It just clicked and we got it! 

I just kept trying to think we are both new at this and we will get it. 

At one point I did just feel like a cow (feeding machine). 

But that feeling and closeness of feeding her tops everything and when looking down at her makes everything worthwhile. 

What do you like the most about breastfeeding?

Where do I start? I love breastfeeding I love the closeness I have with my daughter. It still amazes me how I grew her, bought her into this world and then I have been blessed with the ability to fed her exclusively. 

I love when I am feeding her and she turns and looks up at me smiling, it melts my heart. 

I also liked that when I first had her it was just myself that could feed her and my husband could give her expressed milk when I needed a rest (we was so lucky she took well to a bottle once we established the breastfeeding, she has only ever had expressed breastmilk). 

What are your top tips for new Mums about breastfeeding? 

- telling your family how your feeling and that you want to breastfeed. 

- at the beginning a friend bought me a large scarf which I used to cover up when out and about which lasted about 4 weeks as I had my daughter in July when it was very hot so it would be too hot to cover her. To be honest as times gone now, I am very confident about feeding in public. And I’ve never had any negative comments where I’ve been, they were supportive, especially in Costa.

- the first two weeks every day is different, and you can be feeding for long period of time or they could cluster feed, so we just took each day as it came and didn’t make plans to stick to with time restraints. 

- when getting ready to feed make sure you are comfortable. Have a drink, maybe a snack, your phone and the remote to hand. 

Everyone kept telling me when I was pregnant make the most of every moment. That is so true! My little girl is 8 1/2 months now, and it has flown by.  

Nothing can prepare you for parenthood however believe in yourself and your instinct and the love for your little one will take over. I have found my husband, family and friends a major asset and being open with them allowed them to support me. 

Breastfeeding is a natural act but also a learned skill and behaviour. Both you and your baby have to learn how to breastfeed. This is why it is so important to get the right and enough support from close family and from health professionals. Speak to your partner and your family about your feelings, ask for help when you need it, go to a breastfeeding counsellor and your breastfeeding Mum support group for advice. Breastfeeding is empowering, it’s an accomplishment but it can be a very hard journey, especially in the beginning, yet one of the most rewarding things you will ever do in your life.

For more information on the benefits of Breastfeeding, please head over to the World Health Organisation.

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