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The experience of breastfeeding can vary enormously from one woman to the next, from the most deeply satisfying experience of bonding between mother and child, where the process flows naturally and effortlessly following birth, to the woman who finds it a painful, stressful and potentially a more challenging experience. This includes women who, for reasons either medical or personal, feel unable to continue breastfeeding beyond a short time, and those who choose not to breastfeed their infant at all.
Every woman’s experience and choice deserves respect and support.
An extensive body of research has demonstrated that mothers and other caregivers require active support for establishing and sustaining appropriate breastfeeding practices.
Source:   WHO World Health Organisation website accessed 2019
Bonding is a far deeper exchange between a Mother and new born than what is offered by the means of nutrition through the breast or bottle-feeding, and this depth of exchange includes all other family members who welcome the new birth to the family.

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There is no question of the proven nutritional benefits of breastfeeding for the nourishment of an infant, or the convenience and cost benefits of a ready-made milk supply.

 

There are, however, other important factors to consider that can influence whether a woman’s choice to breastfeed her infant is true for her.  

Mothers can often feel pressured to ‘get it right’ when it comes to breastfeeding and this can put them ill at ease from the start, at times second guessing whether they are doing it ‘correctly’. This sort of pressure can leave a woman feeling anxious and with a lack of confidence in her own ability to get to know her baby and its needs.

In this instance the relationship she has established with her own body and trust in how she feels, can be vital and of great assistance, as well as seeking support from lactation experts where needed.

 

The current societal ideal of ‘breast is best’ can also see a woman who may be struggling with breastfeeding feeling she has failed, feeling a pressure to push on through, and thus overriding the possibility of other options that may be equally valid for her and her situation.

 

If we consider there is more to breastfeeding than simply the exchange of nutritional factors, and that the emotional state and well-being of the mother also plays a significant part when it comes to the experience of nurturing and the all-round nourishment her baby receives, then it becomes obvious that bottle-feeding a young infant also has its place for some women, as it may be their most supportive choice.

Bonding is a far deeper exchange between a Mother and new born than what is offered by the means of nutrition through the breast or bottle-feeding, and this depth of exchange includes all other family members who welcome the new birth to the family.

 

Regardless of a woman’s choice, it is important that she feels respected and supported in that choice.

 

When a woman doesn’t feel supported in her choice it is common to carry a sense of guilt for thinking she has failed as a mother – denying her baby something vital from the outset. This sense of guilt can also be present if the mother is unable to produce sufficient milk for her infant to thrive (for whatever those reasons are), leading to self criticism of her own breasts ‘inadequacy’ to deliver.

 

Freeing a woman from the constraints of these pressures supports her to explore the range of options she may have in her particular situation, allowing her to re-connect with her own body and from there, trust what she feels is true for her and her baby.

 

The role of the Esoteric Breast Massage for a new mother

 

The Esoteric Breast Massage offers the woman a space where she is unimposed upon, but deeply nurtured and supported to re-connect with the innate stillness and wisdom of her body, which naturally includes her breasts. The Esoteric Breast Massage works very delicately on the lymphatic area (on the side of the breasts under the armpit) and the heart area. It does not massage the breast tissue itself. In this deeply nurturing space, this can be a very precious and restoring time for a woman, briefly away from the demands of a new baby. With her connection re-established and/or confirmed, she is more able to listen to her own body’s intelligence in order to feel what is best for her and her child.

 

The how, when and length of time to feed, or whether she chooses to breast or bottle feed, comes from the inner connection and knowing, as each child and mother has their own unique needs when it comes to nurturing and nourishing at this stage of development.

 

There is a deep settlement and confidence that occurs for the mother in her re-connection with herself, and with this, the bonding naturally happens with her baby as mentioned. This supports both to get to know what works and doesn’t work with the feeding process and can help to develop a healthy dynamic between them for thereafter. There is no judgement or imposition of what is best – as no woman can be ‘told so’. The woman and her baby will know what is best for them, given the unimposing, nurturing space in which to do so.

From LB, 39 years old

Today marks five months of breastfeeding for our family. It has been one of the most exposing and challenging tasks I've ever embarked upon.

I've experienced extreme pain and discomfort, countless sleepless nights and frustrations that I wasn't prepared for on any level. In the western world breastfeeding is quite hidden which makes it difficult to learn. It didn't 'come naturally' to me but I reached out for support over and over again and many angels turned up on my doorstep to help me when I was at breaking point. 

Breastfeeding has caused me the most physical pain I've ever experienced (yes even worse than childbirth) and I still experience pain almost every feed but the most confronting thing I've found with breastfeeding is society's hostility to it and the way women attack each other over the way they have chosen to feed their baby. The things I have seen on Facebook forums have shocked me to the core.

Every mother should be supported to feed her baby in a way that feels true and supportive for her and her child, whether that be with formula or breast. 

Breastfeeding is not something 'private' for me. Although sometimes I like to breastfeed in private I do not want to isolate myself every time I need to feed my baby. It is very sad that breasts and women have been sexualised to a point where people cannot handle seeing breasts being used to feed a baby. 

There seems to be a culture in midwifery, that breasts are functional parts of the woman's body either there to breastfeed or not – this concept lacks true care and nurturing for not only the breasts but the woman as a whole. It is my responsibility as a midwife to honour, care and be delicate with my own breasts so I am able to bring that same level of depth to women I care for.”
CJ, Midwife.

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