World Breastfeeding weeks runs from 1st to 7th August 2022 and this year's theme is 'Step up for breastfeeding: educate and support'.
Mum Ceara shares how she was lucky to have a positive breastfeeding experience thanks to support from health professionals and from her family.

"I’m a mum of two from Bristol – my son is six years old and my daughter is three and a half years old. My mum breastfed myself and my two siblings, and breastfeeding my children was always something that I wanted to do. I was very lucky and had a pretty smooth journey with it. I had lots of support and I breastfed my son until he was two and my daughter until she was three.   

When I started breastfeeding for the first time, I was shocked – people say that it’s natural, but it didn’t feel natural. I had to learn how to do it and my children had to learn how to do it. It’s a very different thing to do with your body, especially on top of being sleep deprived and trying to raise a baby. It was a shock to the system!  

I only had a 6 month break between breastfeeding my two children. But when I started breastfeeding my daughter, it was like the first time all over again. It was so painful. It was generally much easier than with my son though – I had the milestones in my head and I knew they were true and that it would get better and I had the confidence in myself this time to know I could do it. It was a good mindset to be in.  

I had really lovely midwives who helped me to get started. I stayed in the hospital for a few extra days with my little boy so that I could get the hang of it. I also had a lot of support from my family and my husband. They all understood that it was something that was really important to me. They made me feel comfortable to breastfeed wherever I needed to, even early on when my son was tiny, and I went to the pub with my husband and all his friends. My husband made sure I had everything I needed to make it work, like bringing me water and snacks. I didn’t have to worry about where to breastfeed on top of learning something new. My mum had lots of experience with breastfeeding and was a great source of encouragement, supporting me to push through and reminding me that it would get better.   

Bristol has lots of breastfeeding support groups. There’s a weekly one next to where I live that I went to after hearing about it from my health visitor. There was coffee, a play area and lots of peer supporters and mums with children of different ages. I also joined a local breastfeeding mums Facebook group which another mum recommended, and which was the best resource ever. There was 24/7 support and always someone up that would answer any questions I had.   

I went back to work when my children were 1. I started expressing before I went back to build up a reserve of breast milk and to get them used to the bottle. I didn’t feel very supported by my workplace – although they said I could use an office to express, there seemed to be confusion about why I was continuing to breastfeed my children. I had to make it work myself as opposed to them taking an active interest into how they could support me.  

On a positive note, I was actually lucky enough to have a very plentiful supply and actually donated some of my excess freezer stash of breastmilk to 3 other babies during my time breastfeeding. 1 of which was actually a friend's baby. So, I have fed 5 babies in my combined 5 years which I am so proud of! 

 One thing I wish I’d known earlier is that it’s ok to do things on your children’s terms. I did a lot of responsive feeding and I feel like there should be more support for what feels right for mum and baby."