So when this year's Lansinoh Global Breastfeeding Survey landed in my inbox, I was ready to listen (metaphorically speaking). Because here is a survey that canvassed the opinions of over 13,000 moms worldwide. Quite simply, here is a survey that's starting a conversation.
"Breastfeeding And Work: Let's Make It Work!"
This year's World Breastfeeding Week theme was "Breastfeeding And Work: Let's Make It Work!" and for moms in countries with protected paid maternity leave, this sentiment seems possible. Because new moms with maternity leave are allowed time with their babies; time to learn the art of breastfeeding and time to relax into motherhood.
To me, these allowances should be entitlements. Shouldn't all moms - regardless of location - be entitled to all aspects of motherhood; including breastfeeding?
Yet for moms in the US, for example, protected maternity leave is simply not supported by the state and being far from an entitlement - it is a lucky win for just a small minority of new moms.
What the Lansinoh survey results show us, is that this disentitled version of motherhood is not accepted by moms. We hear about it often, through murmurings or timeline vents, but we don't often get to see the scale of this opinion.
"Should all moms have paid maternity leave?"
Yes. 98% say yes. (Don't ask me about the 2%...)
Can you hear us, government? It is 2015 and moms, real hard-working moms, are sacrificing or compromising their breastfeeding relationships due to your lack of maternity legislation. Because breastfeeding can be hard! Physically, emotionally and unfortunately, socially. Moms need time; time to master the skill and time to bond with our babies...without the financial burden of unpaid leave and without a ticking clock over our heads, reminding us of our all-too-soon back-to-work date.
Luckily, there are companies, products and support networks out there to alleviate some of the damage that this lack of legislation is doing. Companies like Lansinoh aren't just providing the data, but are continually improving breast pump technology, to ensure that the pumping market meets the needs of moms otherwise failed by legislation. And the value of support networks simply cannot be overlooked...
The Value Of Support
This year's survey found that, globally, the top challenges associated with breastfeeding are pain, night-wakings, frequency of breastfeeds and the initial (and continuing!) learning curve of mastering the skill:
Let me just lay this out clearly...a support network is the answer to every single one of these challenges.
I don't know what I would have done without the support of my lactation consultant. Without those 4 important words..."you can do this"...I might have stopped searching for the reasons behind the pain. Without her advice and guidance along my longer-than-average breastfeeding learning curve, and without the cheerleading of a few valued friends, I might have assumed that I just wasn't cut out to breastfeed.
And the cheerleading doesn't only count if it's face-to-face during daylight hours. Some of the loudest cheers of support I've received have been via a small screen in the depths of what I once named night. Thank you social media, for opening up a world of friendships and camaraderie that I never even assumed I would need. Because this virtual support isn't just a 'nice-to-have'...it's a true bloodline of reassurance for so many of us. Social media gets a bad rap - so often we hear about the bullying, the bragging, the shaming. But once we find our village, we tap into a world of others who have resources and are willing to share them! Through our village, we enter a space of support and acceptance. Through our village, we find like-minded moms who have been there, or are there right now...like-minded moms who are also awake at 3am with a toddler patting them on the face...moms who are also feeding their baby for the 84th time that hour...
Because there really is strength in shared experience. There is strength to be found in knowing that our experiences, with their highs and lows - their difficulties and triumphs, are Oh So Very Normal.
So thank you, Lansinoh, for bringing the conversation to the table. Perhaps, with the right support and the confidence speak up, the powers that be might just start to take note...
Survey details: Lansinoh Laboratories Inc.
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