You and me baby ain't nothing but mammals.


There’s nothing quite like a horror bushfire season and a pandemic to make me thankful for mammalian breasts (my own, to be precise). Yes the first six or eight weeks of breastfeeding my little leech were relentless, those later patches of cluster feeding were a smash, and then the teeth started coming... but right now being my child’s portable milk bar has never felt so reassuring.


Earlier in the year as fires raged across as Australia, a piece from The Conversation about what to pack in baby’s evacuation kit for natural disasters shocked me. These pictures (taken directly from their awesome guide) compare the minimum recommended kit for breastfed vs formula-fed infants if you were to be isolated and without electricity for only three days.


Now that coronavirus is here, my mammary glands are again making me feel a little more at ease in this crazy world. Want to avoid the stress of potential formula shortages or shop as infrequently as possible? The boob is your friend. Even if you’re exposed to something infectious, antibodies to that pathogen show up in breastmilk as little as 20-30 minutes after Mum is exposed to it, boosting baby’s immature immune system. The more you learn about breastmilk, the more you realise that it is magic stuff!

If you’ve chosen to bottle feed exclusively or mixed feed because that’s what is right for your family, I totally support your decision. What worries me is that 97% of Australian women initiate breastfeeding, yet only 10% of women meet their own personal breastfeeding goals. If more women achieve their breastfeeding goals, that means less competition for buying formula, so bottle-feeding and breastfeeding mums (and society in general) need to pack away their high horses and work together to ensure infant feeding security, particularly in times of crisis, but that's another issue for another day.

If you’re expecting a baby, want to breastfeed and worry that you won’t be able to for whatever reason, I’m here to give you hope. Research tells us that only 1% of women are medically unable to breastfeed, so unless you are very unlucky, your breastfeeding “success” (whatever that means to you) is largely down to preparation and support. Here are my top tips to get you prepped.

1. Get prepared during pregnancy and do a breastfeeding-specific education session with either the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) or an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLCs are the professionals who specialise only in breastfeeding). Emma Maher (IBCLC) operates in the Newcastle area as do a few others, or you can find one in your region here. Make sure your partner or support person does the class too - trust me, you will need back up, and any well-intentioned but unhelpful comments about your milk quality or quantity will make you want to give up on breastfeeding or strangle them.

2. Next, get your postpartum plan in order (book a planning session here), so you and your partner are clear on roles and responsibilities because, bless their useless nipples, successful breastfeeding is undoubtedly a team effort.

3. Save ABA helpline number (1800 686 268) to your phone so if milk hits the fan you already know who to call for help, and follow some quality information sources on your socials (The Milk Meg and Pinky Mckay are my top choices) to read during the couchbound hours that are to come.

4. Get your snack station in order with one-handed food, water bottles, your phone charger and a good book, and get ready to nestle in with that little bundle for long haul. 

In the time of bushfires and pandemics, it may be more important than ever to embrace your status as a mammal. Hooray for boobies!


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