Breastfeeding is regularly being phrased as natural, and it is when it comes to mean that natural is what would happen on its own. The problem that comes with that phrase, which we don't always take into consideration, is that "natural" is not a synonym to "easy." Many things are natural in life, but not always easy (think of procreating). This is never truer nowadays, than before, as women are faced with insurmountable challenges and humans wanting to intervene with life: messages of inadequacy, the absence of that village providing preparation from a young age, outdated and sometimes damaging information, the stigma with breastfeeding in front of others, and more so, the lack of satisfactory support. These are all intricately tied together like a web, where the growth or withering of either one of these affects the other.
When seeing this connection, we can quickly understand a little how this all impacts the support for breastfeeding mothers. Many people have the desire to support, many have the drive, but many don't realize how difficult it can be in assisting women when troubles arise. Being a medical professional doesn't make that task easier either, particularly when many have very little training in breastfeeding. Gaps need to be filled in many areas, information needs to be constantly updated often, and reassurance needs to happen for those who in the position of giving aid.
In my last post, I wrote about my experience sharing about doula work in the Baja, Mexico, which gratefully produced wonderful results that came from that unexpected opportunity. Hearing about how that talk was able to impact the work of an OB and her support of laboring women was not the only great result that came this past trip. It also formed new professional relationships as well as opened new doors. This time leading to another opportunity for sharing but about a different topic and to a wider audience.
I was able to meet up with the director of education at the general hospital, who had been at the previous talk on doula work. It was wonderful to connect and see what things had been going on and what the work was like there. During that conversation, I was invited to speak again, but this time on the topic of breastfeeding. Taking advantage of the opportunity was a wonderful way to prepare for World Breastfeeding Week, 2019. Two workshops were scheduled for to hospital staff consisting of nurses and doctors, about the importance of forming that personal relationship with women regarding breastfeeding to help to promote it. The word of this talk spread among the medical community which led to the opportunity to give two more talks at a second local hospital (there are a total of 3 small hospitals in that city).
The workshops covered different topics, including the importance and privilege of the role of the medical staff in supporting breastfeeding both in pregnancy and postpartum, communication between medical workers and mothers and families, what to do when encountering problems, and addressing common misconceptions such as breastfeeding during pregnancy and breastfeeding with medications. Handouts and models were also handed out to be able to use as tools when supporting breastfeeding families. A wonderful contribution to this presentation came from mothers in different parts of the world, who graciously donated pictures of themselves pregnant or breastfeeding for this project. I know that those pictures had a huge impact on the success of this presentation. I am so grateful for this group of women who stepped up to share and be a part of this, helping it be a great success. Thank you, mamas, from Natural Christian Mama's Community for your donation of these pictures!
Thankfully, these were very well received by the medical staff. It was also exciting to see how many were interested, as well as what they are already doing to support breastfeeding. After one of the workshops, one of the nurses was excited to show me through the hallways of their hospital where they had informational boards up for World Breastfeeding Week, promoting lactation to the women being cared for there. It is truly amazing to see how the local medical communities are working to support this.
Seeing how well received this information has been the past two times, I am inspired to see what more can be done to collaborate with medical professionals to come alongside them and help to bring more support for new families. I am truly ecstatic to continue this relationship with the people down in Baja California Sur, Mexico.