Why the silence around breastfeeding as pain relief for teething is a pain in itself

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An insta post grabbed my eye this week: a pretty graphic titled "How to soothe your teething toddler".

With my bub struggling through I don't know how many teeth (including molars) coming at once, I was all eyes and ears.

The ideas shown suggested I should "give dummies or chew toys" and "distract with milk" with a picture of a bottle.

As I sat on the kitchen floor breastfeeding my child for the zillionth time this week, the message "your child is using you as a dummy" was loud and clear as ever, this time by way of omission.

There were no boobs in sight, despite breastfeeding offering immediate calmative effects, reassurance, anti-inflammatory properties and pain-reducing chemicals to the teething child.

When did we as a society lose the memo about "milk teeth" coming in when the child was still actually drinking human milk?

What if my teething little one needs to use her mummy as a mummy, instead of a dummy as a fake nipple without the nutritional or analgesic benefits or being 'distracted' by a bottle?

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia, new mothers have had reduced access to breastfeeding advice with early hospital discharge and reduced follow up.

Simultaneously breastfeeding helplines are lighting up and online forums are packed with mothers of older children seeking to increase their supply or even relactate in an attempt to protect their children from the virus.

Why are we not giving our new mums the extra 10 minute check in per week to give them the help with latch, supply questions or whatever else they need to continue breastfeeding at a time when reduced immunity and formula shortages are of greatest concern in living memory?

I'm not saying never use dummies. I'm not saying never set boundaries on ownership of your body.

What I am suggesting is that our cultural messaging and policy in relation to breastfeeding are topsy turvy right now.

We have the power to change at least one of these every day in action and word. Let's #normalisebreastfeeding.


This blog was originally posted on Facebook in recognition of World Breastfeeding Week 2020. #wbw2020


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