World breastfeeding week
This week marks World Breastfeeding Week, an initiative of the joint UNICEF-WHO led Global Breastfeeding Collective, with this year's theme being "Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet".
Breastfeeding clearly provides a beneficial start to life for the developing infant, however, it is important to acknowledge that for some women it presents a significant challenge. There are a variety of reasons this may be the case and appropriate support from a trained lactation consultant can be immensely beneficial.
It is also important to stress that women who cannot breastfeed, whether the reasons are physiological or personal, also are deserving of support and should not be made to feel guilty for choices they make or have put upon them by circumstance. Unfortunately, what I have observed in caring for women over the years has been a trend, both from clinicians and from society, particularly through social media, towards an environment that is not necessarily supportive and which results in some women suffering genuine psychological harm. In this respect, as with many topics in society that get passions stirred, I hope that clinicians and commentators remind themselves to 'be kind' in the tone of their interactions with all women, whether they breastfeed or not.
Ultimately, a fed baby is a healthy baby and provided they grow up in a caring environment they are getting the best start in life.